Even so, I expected the typical Xmas party, with everyone shouting at once, and I arrived with the earplugs already in place. But we got there unfashionably early, before it was in full swing.
After 5 minutes I found I wanted to hear what people were saying, so I took the plugs out. Then I grabbed some red wine. It wasn't alcohol-free but what the hell.
Later a very sociable journalist acquaintance arrived, and we chatted for maybe an hour. One of these garrulous conversations where every topic spawns several more, and you're racing to chase them all down without losing any. And of course it helps when neither of you is a deifheid.
When you've enjoyed a party, saying goodbye at the end you actually feel as if you like everybody. Strange.