Saturday 26 January

Swarthy Erick and I to Petra’s flat to toast her with cocktails expertly mixed by her new man Hans. The rum is tenderly spiced and there is no hiding the contrast brought about by those cocktails that substitute it for the vodka we have bought en route. When the shop assistant reached for what was surely the most economical variety – the label seeming to consist of a soiled tissue with the word DEATH scrawled across it in blunt-tipped pencil – the bearded patron corrected him with a roar, ‘He said the cheapest vodka!’ upon which an unlabelled variety made its way into my thrifty paw, within which I could clearly see a dozen eyeless phantoms competing to be first out of the bottle upon opening. Luckily, uncorking it in the kitchen saw the malevolent forces enter the rear of Petra’s pigeon-baiting cat rather than the fronts of any of the pre-clubbing guests. Surely no one will ever notice unless the comedowns are particularly bad?

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