My plan was to host three parties, one in each location where I have a high density of friends, so that I would have a final chance to drink with everyone I know and love. Being rather keen on events planning, these would of course be immaculately organised and perfectly run.
Well this was always going to be difficult. I wanted to have a party to include my beloved colleagues at One to One and also my fantastic housemates at the Old College in Paddington. But of course with so many of my colleagues going through redundancy, and with all my housemates going through eviction, there was little appetite for celebration.
My colleagues did organise a joint leaving party for us all but I'm sorry to say I was so exhausted with packing, moving and planning that I barely stayed for two drinks. I instead went into the office on my last day, the 9th February, to say goodbye to everyone in person. Ben made the most beautiful carrot cake I've ever tasted in my life and Winston broke into the wine cupboard, and I choked back the tears as I realised that this would likely be my last time ever sitting in that office and talking to the fantastic array of people there.
And I made them pose for this photograph:
|L-R Andrew, Carmen, Mimi, Paul, Erdeniz, Sagi, Gurvinder, Winston, Zahra, Angustias, Ben, Aleksandra and Bernadett|
I telephoned the caterers in a panic with just 10 days' notice, only to learn that I'd already booked them and forgotten. I also ordered 80 designed invitations from Vistaprint and left 75 of them in my handbag. There was not one part of this event that I had properly organised.
Luckily there was still a great turnout - the amazing friends I've made at Telstars Theatre Group, some of the best rebels from my old office at Confused.com and of course my lovely neighbour James. We had a chilly outdoor marquee at the Gwdihw, with hot Indian food provided by the Vegetarian Food Studio in Grangetown. As the party was winding down, I borrowed a plastic recycling sack from the bar staff and poured all the left over bajis, samosas and atom bombs into it. We went on to a bar on Womamby Street where dancing, drinking and offering strangers Indian food from a bin bag took place.
|Some sober and stable friends, photographed by a sober and stable Emily|
Finally, James and I took a taxi back to my house where one of my lodgers was still up and about, as well as Tufter the cat, so the three of us carried on the party until such time as all naughty children should be in bed. The bin bag of Indian food went in the freezer.
A week later we ploughed into The Pheasant, a pub that I called home for several years in my youth (literally - I lived with the bar manager in the adjoining cottage). This was in many ways the easiest to organise - I had still failed to send all my beautifully printed invitations, but I had managed to get food orders for everyone.
We had a three-course meal for 16 people in our own private room, with flowing wine and conversation and a heartfelt poem written and performed by my sister. The pub's boiler was condemned during our visit, so we were again condemned to be chilly, but another glass of wine can always solve that problem. Some friends had to leave early to big hugs and kisses, but most of us went on to a number of pubs in the area. Apparently. It was a night full of nostalgia all the way back to my school days, but sadly not a night I can remember.
4. The Cat
Four days after the Salisbury party, Tufter disappeared. He followed one of my housemates down the road in the morning and then never came home for breakfast. I spent the week that followed searching for him day and night, posting leaflets through neighbours' doors, publishing his photograph on 'lost cat' websites and talking to local vets and council departments. He has been spotted since the disappearance, locally too, but hasn't been hanging around his usual haunts and certainly hasn't popped back through his cat flap. I hoped with all my heart that I would find out what happened to him before I left, just to be sure that he'd be okay, but sadly there's no news to this day.
Now I just imagine and hope that an old lady has taken him in, and that she'll feed him roast beef and salmon trimmings and that he'll spend his last years purring in front of the fire somewhere comfortable. It's all I could ever ask for him. So, in memory of our long happy years together, here's a picture taken just a week before he went on travels of his own:
|Tufter, age 16: he beat me to it|