Old girl props up 'Oktoberfest' bar

00:54, Oct 31 2013

Although I didn't make it to Oktoberfest proper this year, you can't swing a magenta slipper vamp heel from Topshop (yes, they are fabulous, thanks) in London without hitting a pub.

Even with my throwing arm, finding a substitute wasn't going to be that difficult.

(Fun fact I learned from friends whose lederhosen was Germany-bound: Oktoberfest starts in September. Mind = cannot compute.)

I was invited by some new pals to a "do" thrown by the New Zealand Society, at Kiwi House - which I quickly learned was reputed to have one of the most enviable views in London. That, plus the promise of delicious New Zealand beverages, sounded like a winning combination.

Unfortunately, I learned a life lesson that same week: I am officially An Old now.

In the not-too-deep recesses of my memory, I can picture a time when three or more nights on the trot was perfectly do-able.


Trooper that I am, though, I soldiered on - after slapping on some lippy to distract from my wan, I-want-to-lie-down complexion.

(Not to mention, in all honesty, from what I am sure was that lingering companion nobody can get rid of - not even after very thorough scrubbing in- shower - after a few nights out: the aroma of stale booze and cigarettes, or what I will henceforth refer to as Eau du Club.)

I struggled to stay awake on the Piccadilly Line as I edged closer and closer to Pall Mall, but any fear I would collapse, broken, somewhere in the penthouse suite dissipated.

At least temporarily.

A non-beer drinker, I worried Oktoberfest - and the Kiwi version's holy grail, Speight's - would be wasted on me.

But even more enthralling than the riesling were the ice-cold cans of the greatest drinks in the world: one of the juicy variety; the other, World Famous.

There is nothing, nothing, more attractive to somebody whose liver is screaming almost as loudly as their feet, as a cold one.

A cold apple and lime, that is.

Despite the general festivities - is there anything jollier than a group of well-hydrated Kiwis listening to a live band perform some home-grown classics, followed by an oompah band alternating between songs from The Sound of Music and Tom Jones? The only way things could have been even better, would have been if somebody busted out Ten Guitars - I am fairly confident I was the most frequent visitor to the cash bar.

Almost completely ignoring the delicious canaps circulating (small fiefdom-sized schnitzel sandwiches, an array of sausages, some form of bread smothered in actual pig fat topped with bacon - I said almost, guys), I all but propped myself up against the bar, leaving only to take some very windswept photos from the balcony, and spend some time swapping travel stories.

(My trusty "the time Mark was bitten by a spider in Iguazu" proved popular: his foot swells, goes purple, and renders him unable to walk; we are several hours from the nearest hospital; I ask the Korean doctor on our tour if it will be OK, his answer is slightly lost in translation - a cheery smile, followed by a perky "maybe!"; an attempt to seek reassurance from the South African nurse receives a no-nonsense "if it was bad he'd be dead already"; realising as we are about to cross a notorious border, having spent six hours at the mercy of guards with enormous guns, that the fistful of brightly-coloured pills said doctor had merely wrapped in a piece of notebook paper were casually tucked into a shorts pocket. Welcome to South America!)

One of the girls referred to my stream of juice as "New Zealand crack", which started us on a passionate conversation about how you become so desperate for goodies from home you are willing to trek over an hour across the city simply to procure a jar of tamarillo chutney from a lady at Broadway Market, or pay [PndStlg]37 for a packet of Tim Tams.

In the interests of grabbing London by the cojones, I pulled a remarkable "one of the last to leave" out of the hat, which gives me hope I am not ready to retire the dancing shoes just yet.

Maybe by the next Kiwi House party - Halloween - I will have recovered.

As I write this, I am sprawled on the couch, immobile: moving only to tap a few keys or change channels between re- runs of Come Dine With Me and Alan Carr.

Anybody want to bring me another can of Fresh Up?

If you enjoy this blog, please vote for it in the NetGuide Web Awards here by copy/pasting in this URL as your vote - http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/opinion/blogs/uptown-girl-abroad