Friday, 12th December, 2003. Not Big Sam sits quietly in a shadowy corner of the bar in the Holiday Inn Bolton Centre Hotel. He watches, he surveys, he analyses. His eyes widen in horror as he sees Ivan Campo having excruciatingly awkward sex with a Japanese dwarf under a table, while Bruno N’Gotty looks on, waving a French flag, and shouting: “Ze little lady is getting ze boom boom!” at the top of his gruff, disrespectful voice.
I look away in disgust. My violated gaze, however, is merely redirected to further atrocities: Emerson Thome is vomiting violently onto a stack of Gideon Bibles; Kevin Nolan has defecated on top of a crudely constructed Haitian voodoo altar; Jussi Jääskeläinen is kicking a really distressed-looking donkey full in the face, for no apparent reason. It’s bedlam.
Not Big Sam has seen some depraved and deplorable behaviour in his time, but very little comes close to the 2003 Bolton Wanderers Christmas party. It was a bash of breathtakingly barbaric debauchery; one that left many involved as embarrassed and ashamed as Michael Gove’s parents.
As recently as last weekend, one of my own children, Andy Carroll, became the latest bundling ballbag to land himself in a whole heap of Daily Mail-sponsored bother, after having a few too many shandies at our Christmas party in Dublin, and getting into a tangle with a tabloid photographer. It’s not just professional footballers that run the risk of ignominy and admonishment over the Yuletide party season, however.
Even the dullest, most insignificant dweeb can fall into a dark, murky lagoon of infamy, once his or her self-control is smashed into pieces, by the thick, devastating hammer of alcohol-induced idiocy.
Christmas is a time of fun; a time of joy, and celebration for all. It all started 476 years ago, when the Lord Jesus Christ slid effortlessly out of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate vagina. The little lad did it with a style and panache that a golden tradition was instantly born. As one of the wise men present at the birth may well have been heard to say: “This is class. We should totally celebrate this moment every year. But not just the day itself – let’s go bananas for the whole bloody month.”
Let’s go mental to the arrival of the Christ child
And behold, the final 31 days of every year is given over to extolling the arrival of the Christ child, by drinking, eating and generally living it up like big old pimps. Integral to the entire period, is the Christmas office party; an event that looms large in the wretched, soul-destroying lives of every crushed, 9-to-5 pleb in existence. While such gatherings can be thoroughly enchanting affairs — replete with rewardingly erotic pay-offs for colleagues who have spent the entire year flirting with each other, and the fleeting re-evaluation of people who spend every working hour being complete and utter bastards — they can also be tawdry and debasing experiences; as grim and damaging as a Polish labourer.
Beneath the forced camaraderie, shit paper hats, and atrocious dancing, lies a fiendish labyrinth of social booby traps and incriminating temptations, designed to ruin your reputation and end your career. It’s like that old kids’ TV show, Knightmare, but with more crème de menthe and crying.
“What the hell do you know about embarrassing yourself at a party, you gammon-headed fool?” I hear you ask. “Sure, you’re as perpetually elegant and genteel as a swan in a ball-gown.”
That’s very sweet of you to say, lads, but alas, it is not true. I may be a man of science, and brawn and finesse, but I’ve also made my fair share of dishonourable appearances at Christmas parties.
Back in 2000, Not Big Sam was just a few months away from play-off glory with Bolton. I had a spring in my step, a cheeky sprout of fur upon my top lip, and a commanding slice of genitalia, engorged with the metaphorical venous blood of imminent accomplishment. The Bloodhound Gang’s sensational hit The Bad Touch (above) was played non-stop on my Discman, and I’d finally beaten a particularly ruthless dose of the clap. I was on top of the world as I stepped into a seasonal party, held in a swanky hotel bar, by the good people at Halfords. I’d drank 14 bottles of peach Concorde by the time I arrived at the soirée, and my consumption showed no signs of abating.
The apex of my disgracefully-drunken behaviour that night, occurred when I stripped down to my socks, placed a yellow, fluffy cushion-cover atop my head, and pretended to be a lion. I prowled around the bar with an intensity that was both terrifying and, strangely moving. I roared illogically at a gaggle of attractive girls, before turning my beastly gaze towards my prey: a wheelchaired lad by the buffet.
My eyes narrowed as they locked onto him. I’m not sure if had emerged myself so deeply into the role of a big cat, that I genuinely thought he was some sort of injured quarry, ready to be devoured, or I just really didn’t like the look of him. Either way, no sooner had I spotted him rolling towards a plate of breaded chicken strips, than I was I leaping through the air, and crashing down on his feeble frame.
“What the hell are you doing, you nonce?!” he squealed, his creaking voice betraying the primal fear that had suddenly been injected into his paltry veins. “Rooooaaarrrrrr!” I retorted, like a big lion. In the following two minutes and 26 seconds, I mauled the poor little tyke into a steel-coated heap of misery. As the other guests looked on in horror, I trotted away from my victim with a feeling of misguided invincibility that only a bout of heavy drinking can offer.
Then, in a moment that will haunt me forever, I lifted my hind-leg, and urinated all over his little baseball cap. As the peach-coloured wee dribbled into his already moist eyes, an all-encompassing shame descended upon me, one that still lingers today. I’ll never forget his little face; the look of sheer confusion and desolation will live with me until the day I die.
Needless to say, I soon got thrown out of the hotel, and ended up getting into another fight with a homeless man, who for some reason was carrying a spear. Alas, this was a battle that I was to lose.
As the festive party season gets into full swing, Big Sam’s message is clear: have fun, be merry, close the deal with Angie in Accounts. But for God’s sake, be careful. Don’t drink any more than you’d be comfortable doing at work; don’t stab your boss in the throat with a dessert spoon, after telling him how miserable he makes you; don’t photocopy your junk, turn it into an offensive paper aeroplane, and attempt to fly it into the mouths of elderly co-workers. And whatever you do – for the love of all that is good and pure – don’t pretend to be a jungle cat, and assault a mild-mannered cripple without due cause. It will only end in tears.
Not Big Sam is a parody account on Twitter which can be found here. It is in no way related to Sam Neill, Sam Adams, Sam Allardyce or Sam Fox.