Sunday 16 January 2011

The Aftermath

The feathers of the alternative Xmas tree have been brushed off the floor and hundreds of empties, many of them vodka bottles, have been taken down to the bottle bank for recycling.

The floor has been washed numerously as a mixture of spillage, and dirty shoe soles made for an interesting experience trying to navigate around the house bear foot or in socks and finally all the furniture is back in its rightful place.

While wallowing in the memories of the success of the party and reading the countless emails and thank you cards we have received, I cannot stop thinking that if it had not been for all the hard work that 'my team' had produced it may have never happened.

So a big thank you to Milo our lighting designer who has once again liaised with me in the last few months to ensure that my artistic vision and his lighting talent would work hand in hand to produce the right atmosphere for our little soirée and enhance the tree which, as always, was the focus point of the party.

A huge thank you also to DJ Chris Brogan who once again provided awesome tunes throughout the night.

He is very talented and during the last 4 years, he has made our party the success it now is. We are fully aware that one day his talent and popularity will take him away from us, so we are going to squeeze every last bit of his generosity until we no more can. He is such a huge part of our annual event that he has become an honorary Denning.

Do check DJ Chris Brogan's podcast

There was also the unsung heroes who were drafted in at the last minute to help us finish everything on time. My brother Sidney and his girlfriend Aurélie who, on my instruction, ended up ironing 500 balloon ribbons so they would hang straight from the ceiling once the balloon were filled with helium (I know, I'm a bit particular and demanding at times).

Our friend Scott who spent most of the Friday night putting valves and strings into the 500 latex balloons so they would be ready to be inflated on the day. Unfortunately, the helium inflated balloons have a short shelf life and could not be inflated in advance.

A particular thank you to my husband Chris Denning, for his patience, his kindness and his tolerance towards my eccentricities. Without his support there would not be a party and to me there is nothing more rewarding than seeing him working the room. He may live like a hermit most of the year but he surely knows how to host when the time comes.

And a huge thank you to all of you who have attended the party. As I have said before, we can try to impress you with décor, sounds and lights, but a party is only as good as its guests. You guys (and the many messages we received confirm that) were awesome, friendly, funny, hot (that seems to be a recurring subject in our messages) and very enthusiastic. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So now that it is over, the Dennings can finally contemplate the new year. It is always difficult for us to wave goodbye to Christmas until our party is out of the way.

With the new year, comes new resolutions. Chris and I have decided that 2011 will be the year we will look after our bodies. I have a history of not being able to stick to my resolutions if the results do not show their pretty face soon enough. I am motivated and have self control but needs excitement regularly or my motivation flies off the door as soon as the boredom sets in.

Oh, have I also mentioned pressure? Yep, I LOVE IT. Pressure is my fuel and is what drives me.

As a result, tomorrow morning Monday 17th January 2011, I will be starting an intense training for the next 90 days called the P90X (look for it on youtube). As an added motivation, I will be documenting my training regularly on this blog so the added pressure of having committed to it and committed publicly to you should make for a successful experience.

I have taken my before pictures (they are quite tough to look at for somebody with body issues) but I am happy to post them on my blog as I know that in 90 days time I will be proud of the changes my body has experienced. I'm 38 years old, it's time to get fit!

Wednesday 12 January 2011

January 2011 - Post Xmas party production week

It's the first week of January 2011 and now that the xmas and new year festivities are out of the way, it is time to wear my party production hat and start producing the 2011 version of The Denning's annual post-Xmas party which is planned for the 8th.

This is the crucial week when my design ideas and the thoughts about their execution will be put to the test. The alternative Xmas tree has to be built, the décor for the flat needs to be put up, the menu for the canapés is to be finalised and the last shopping trips is to be carried out.

This is also the time when the guests who had confirmed their attendance, as well as those who had potentially committed to attending the party, let you know that they will not be able to come. Needless to say, this adds up to the stress of the preparations as one cannot stop the word 'Failure' from dancing with one's mind. What if nobody comes? Would the place look busy enough with only 50 guests attending?

However, as the pressure from the arrival of D Day increases, and the final to do list becomes longer, these concerns are brushed aside simply by the mere fact that time does not allow for worrying.

D-Day minus 3

I woke up with a terrible headache which had started the previous night with no sign of improvement. A full day's work hasn't tampered my suffering and the pain killers are only proving helpful for a couple of hours at a time. With this in mind (pardon the pun), I have decided to put aside the party preparations (by then the alternative xmas tree is the only item ticked off from the to do list) and head straight to bed hoping to sleep the headache off.

D-Day minus 2

Half way through the night I had to awaken Chris, my civil partner, so he could take me to the Accident & Emergency department of our local hospital. Once the effect of the pain killers wore out, the pain became so excruciating that sleep was no longer an option. My head felt like it was about to explode and having taken over the recommended limit of ibuprofens, the only responsible thing to do was to head straight to the hospital.
After over 3 hours in a brightly lit hospital cubicle (which did not help in the slightest) I was given some paracetamol, moved to a darker cubicle and told to wait for the drugs to take effect. Apparently, after checking the back of my eyes, no inflammation was noticeable so I was free to go back home as my discomfort was thought to be benign.
In the morning, and after having been sedated by the hospital doctor, taking some more medication and having overslept, it was agreed that I would carry out my working shift from home as noise and bright lights were becoming increasingly hostile to me and the thought of being in the office did not agree with or appeal to me.
Once my working day was over and having suffered an unbearable headache for over 48 hours, I decided once again to bypass the party preparations and go to bed instead hoping that sleep would make the pain go away.
A couple of hours later, I woke up with tears streaming down my face unable to sleep any longer. By then I had taken upon myself to disregard the daily allowance for the medication I was taking, as killing the pain became as much of an obsession as meeting Justin Bieber is to a 14 year old pre-pubescent girl (and that's obsessive!). While waiting, I finalised my menu and prepared my shopping list.

D-Day minus 1

Today is the day when all the food for the 480 canapés has to be purchased and be prepared. The plan was to wake up early to do the shopping, come back home and get started before my brother and his girlfriend arrive from France for the weekend's activities. However, the pain was so strong throughout the night that my sleep was constantly interrupted and I emerged slowly from my bedroom at 1pm. A mere 30 minutes before my brother was to ring the door. I took a quick shower (after some more drugs, of course) and I rushed out of the door to collect them from St Pancras International across the road from home.  I was basically hoping that if I were to go and fetch them (which was not the original plan) they would find it difficult to refuse my pleading for assistance in order to be ready on time for the party. By that time, panic was settling in despite the pain trying to take all my focus away from my duties.
We went shopping and were able to catch up on the way to the shops (we had not seen each other for nearly 10 months) and came back home to prepare the food while I gave them the responsibility to finish the house decorations and iron 500 balloon's ribbons (don't ask!). They went to bed at around 4am and I followed suite at 5:30am after having baked 198 mini lemon tartlets.


I am not a religious person (despite having been raised a catholic) but the abuse suffered as a child (to be clear I am talking mental abuse rather than physical abuse here) and the intolerance of the church has prevented me since my early teenage years from believing in a higher power. Furthermore, the higher power I was told to submit to, seemed to be spending far too much time telling me that what I was doing was wrong rather than supporting me as I blossomed into a young adult. However, I admit to having thanked God on D-Day as I woke up pain free for the first time in over 5 days. If indeed someone was looking out for me and needed me to believe in his/her existence, on Saturday 8th January they were doing a pretty good job. The final food preparation was being carried out and the furnitures moved around. The last bit of decorations were being put up as Milo, our lighting designer, was tweaking the lamps and laser. My sister and her husband had arrived from France by plane in the afternoon and the DJ was setting up. With 30 minutes to go, the lights, the laser, the sound, the food and the decor were all ready for their performance. I too was definitely ready for fun, for my friends and for loads of frolics