I think it was the half hour of traipsing round an unsavoury part of town, looking for an unmarked door in the rain that made me realise tonight wasn't going to be the giddy fun I had hoped for. I finally locate the dank-looking venue and am whisked furtively inside. I am handed an enamel mug with what looks like urine in it. Whatever happened to just going out? Why does every occasion now have to be a ridiculous 'immersive experience'? If someone dares ask me for a secret password I swear they're going to get punched. Thankfully my friend Lara is waiting for me, and also peering quizzically into her tin cup.
"It's a cocktail!" trills the door lady, waving her clipboard around with self-satisfied glee. Lara and I exchange sceptical glances as we wait to be 'taken downstairs'.
"This better be good" I hiss, as our heels clatter down the damp grey steps. So what brings us out this faintly ridiculous evening? It's Posho's birthday party and he was so keen for us to come he bought us both tickets. I suffer continuing low-level guilt about the way I have treated him in the past so thought that showing face at his party was the least I could do.
I freeze as we enter the inner sanctum. "There are people here playing UKELELES" I whisper into Lara's ear as we suddenly find ourselves three feet away from some sort of orchestra. We hurry past the happily tootling blur of facial hair and musty tuxedos to the private room that Posho has commandeered for his guests to the side of the stage. I spot him immediately because he is wearing his kilt and looks faintly ill at ease. I clamp my hand into his shoulder and plaster on a big smile. To my surprise he is currently sporting an impressively groomed goatee beard.
"Wow, you look like Walter White!" I exclaim, and he looks at me blankly. How could I forget? He's one of those people that takes weird pride in never watching any television. How tedious. But he has already moved on to Lara. She is Spanish and he is attempting to learn the language so they engage in stilted conversation, a slightly pitying look creeping across her face. I take the chance to survey the crowd. I vaguely know a couple of his friends and exchange polite hello-how-are-yous. I can't quite meet the eye of his flatmate since the last time I saw him was in the summer when I had been drinking Bloody Marys from 11am on the roof at Shoreditch House, then just carried on and invited myself round to theirs, as it was quite near by. They had some friends round and I went round the room asking them intrusive personal questions one by one. (It seemed hilarious at the time, to me at least).
I look back to try and find Posho for a proper catch up but he's vanished. Despite our doomed romantic history I do actually like the boy and he certainly gives good email. Now this is strange - I've always considered him one of those people that I can click my fingers or let out a low whistle and he will coming running, but seemingly not tonight. I scan the room once more for someone to chat with but there is not a single receptive face turned toward me.
I've never considered myself to be conventionally pretty, but I do have what could politely be described as 'strong features' - at my school prom I was given an award for the person most resembling a classical Greek statue. Let's say I'm used to people looking at me. I am especially popular with babies who stare away, unencumbered by social etiquette - a waste really, as I have very little interest in them. But tonight apparently no one cares.
A gang of dressed-up twenty-somethings come barging past and one of them steps on my toe, which is not ideal as I am wearing strappy sandals that consist of wisps of diamanté nothingness. I yelp in pain but he doesn't even stop or acknowledge his clumsiness. I limp off to the bar to sulk and ruminate upon the fact that I have officially become INVISIBLE.
After a large vodka tonic I stop moping and vow to start scintillating conversations with interesting-looking people, but no one is really buying. It's like I'm trying to sell them double glazing or something. The only person who has actually approached me, unprompted, is some ginger-haired geek, straight from central casting.
"Good evening!" he exclaims, with an strange theatrical arm flourish.
"Hello" I say, with what I hope is a convincing smile. "I like your bow tie." I don't, but I can't think of what else to say.
"I like your... everything!" he replies, with the kind of boyish awkwardness that makes me feel sad.
We struggle onward with the required questions about why we are there, how we know Posho and where we work. Orchestra de mothball have struck up once again and we are forced to shout into one another's ear.
I tell him briefly what I do and that I feel very lucky.
"Your name's Jackie??" he screeches back, and I swear I can feel spittle spray my neck. The foot-trampling gang come barrelling past once more and I shout "Bloody young people!" at no-one in particular, whilst secretly wishing I was having as much fun. I am having absolutely zero fun. Geek boy looks slightly perturbed by my outburst and mercifully shambles off to find his next victim. I root around in my bag for my phone. The one and only good thing about this crappy venue is that there is still mobile reception. I send a text and make my way to the cloakroom. There's no need to say goodbye to anyone, they can't see me! As I reach the top of the the stairs my phone beeps a reply. He's going to come and pick me up in 10 minutes. I tell him I'm wearing a full length dress and fur coat and that he won't be able to miss me. Unlike the rest of the world right now it seems.