JANET STREET-PORTER: The idea of sensible partying is bizarre. Brits don't do sensible. We are bingers when it comes to food and drink.
The buzzword of the moment - trotted out by doomy experts and government ministers - is 'cautious'.
Yes, fun is permitted this New Year's Eve, but please don't do anything stupid and have too much.
Or what? Is PC Plod going to break down the doors of the Dog and Badger if not enough windows are open to ensure a howling gale whooshes through the bar moving any microbes outside, reducing the hot bar snacks to a lukewarm buffet?
The idea of sensible partying is bizarre. Brits don't do sensible. We are bingers when it comes to food and drink.
And after the year we've been through, how can anyone (except Chris Whitty) expect us to go out and party but keep the brakes on?
How do you party without partying?
I guess it means; keep our knees together, masks on, knickers up and our glasses only half-filled… you get the picture.
And don't breathe on guests we haven't inspected for proof of vaccination, let alone have them breathe on us.
And God forbid we exchange any bodily fluids with anyone who can't provide full documented proof of their medical history.
How we cheered when those doomsters at Sage were given the brush-off by our leader who proudly announced that festive fun was BACK ON.
Christmas might have been spent with our close family, but New Year is another matter and now we are officially permitted to have fun in pubs, restaurants and anywhere we can get in, or which hasn't gone bust.
But - and it's a huge BUT - even Boris has decreed we must follow the rules and be 'careful' at all times.
Anyone would think we were teenagers being given sex education advice, not a population which normally consumes its own weight in booze during these seasonal festivities.
Yes, Boris 'saved' this Christmas by refusing to impose draconian lockdowns like the couple of self-styled dictators running Scotland and Wales.
Nicola Sturgeon has made a successful policy out of gazumping Boris at every turn with harsher Covid rules than he dared impose on the English.
How I hope he gets away with his great festive gamble and leaves Scotland's First Minister with eggnog all over her face explaining to Scotland why she stole their Hogmanay.
If any of her oppressed subjects can get in a car (or find a train that's running), they are welcome to throw caution to the wind and brazenly cross the borders to join the sensible partying that's permitted in England.
But will they bother?
How many Scotsmen and women will be tempted by the idea of a 'sensible' New Year's Eve? Even if Nicola Sturgeon has gracefully conceded that she does not plan to arrest anyone who dares leave her domain.
Throughout the pandemic we have been consistently addressed by scientists, health experts and politicians as if we're toddlers.
Nevertheless, in spite of the patronising tone, the public have complied with most of the rules so far, most recently to queue for hours for jabs and boosters.
We might have felt like subservient sheep at times, led by a clown who didn't think the rules about social gatherings applied to his own office, but I'm proud of the fact that most of the public (excluding brainless twats like Piers Corbyn and his loutish pals) did their best to follow the rules, protect the vulnerable, and keep the NHS open.
But the latest directive - which is still a form of social control - telling us we must be 'cautious' when eating, drinking or meeting friends, is plain ridiculous.
I've had three jabs, I've spent months being careful. Now I'm done with careful when it comes to the final party of 2021.
Being sensible and cautious are a clear sign you've officially turned into your mum and dad. The words are meaningless, woolly, confusing.
Sensible people will be drinking a glass of sherry at 9pm and turning the lights out at 10pm as per usual tomorrow. And good luck to them.
Throughout the pandemic, government has relied on messaging which the public would find acceptable. Previous covid guidelines were simple to follow, but as the virus mutated, the instructions from mission control have become more vague and slightly sinister.
With hospitalisation and death rates remaining low, many would argue that we are being made to feel frightened and scared when it's not necessary. Anxiety, depression and isolation have soared.
The first official guidelines like 'wash your hands for 15 seconds' made sense.
Obeying the rules of social distancing and maintaining two metres away from others was fine, but it can't be followed when Britain eventually drags itself back to work and public transport operates as normal.
Wearing a mask in shops and enclosed spaces is simple enough to obey - although an increasing number of us have had enough after months of rule-changing.
But attending a New Year's Eve party and 'being sensible' is a non-starter.
It might as well be written in Urdu or Swahili. I can't comprehend how a party at the end of such a horrible year, an event where food and drink flow freely, where people will listen to music, dance and throw their arms around each other in an embarrassing way and wear clothes which are never going to provide any protection against winter weather, can ever be conducted 'sensibly'.
How many people do you know who are 'sensible' after a bottle of wine, five pints of beer, a couple of whiskey sours and a turn on the karaoke? Not me, for sure. It defeats the entire object.
The government script for a Sensible New Year's Eve is as follows.
1. Test yourself before you go out. That assumes you can actually get a lateral flow test when even the Saj, who never likes to deliver anything other than positive news, admits there's been a serious 'glitch' and kits are in really short supply. Apparently there will be plenty available in two weeks, when New Year's Eve has passed, credit card bills have arrived and you can't afford to go out.
2. Make sure all your mates have been tested. Well, you'll just have to take their word for it if their phones have died or they lost the little negative plastic test marker thing. As for relying on a negative PCR test - it's taking up to ten days to get a result in some areas.
3. To be extra 'cautious' and 'sensible' make sure everyone in your group has been triple-jabbed. So what are you supposed to do if one of the hasn't? Send them home? Name me someone who has had to put up with their relatives and dreary siblings for 48 hours over Christmas who is going to let a small detail like that come in the way of going out drinking on New Year's Eve.
4. When you arrive at the venue, tour the entire room making sure all the windows are wide open as requested by our chief medical officers. What if it's a basement club or a posh restaurant in a hotel? Well, Chris Whitty probably won't be spending his New Year's Eve in a nightclub and Boris is most likely to be stuck at Chequers nappy changing, regularly replenishing his 'cheese board' as he hosts a 'working' dinner featuring paper hats, a tarts and tramps disco and a magician dressed as Dominic Cummings.
5. Wear your mask, except when you're kissing or eating or drinking - which will be most of the time.
I know that only 60% of Londoners have been jabbed, the lowest rate in the country.
New Year's Eve Celebrations in the city do carry some risk but I'll take my chances.
And who wants to catch anything now, just before we return to work?
On second thoughts, don't answer that.