Never mind the first baby of the millennium - as Big Ben chimed, I was almost the first stiff

After Geoff had taken control and persuaded the rest of the party that there was about as much chance of getting an ambulance over to Muswell Hill five minutes before midnight on Millennium Eve as there was of finding some decent alternative to Gaby Roslin on the box, they decided that the only way forward was to lay me out flat on the dining-room carpet and force half-a-dozen aspirin down my throat.

What I've now learnt to call my palpitations had begun about an hour earlier, but I'd managed to write them off as nothing more than the inevitable side effect of six vodka slammers, several rumbustious rounds of a rather silly game called Twister which involved a great deal of standing on one leg and the constant background beat provided by a Macy Gray CD which we'd all reluctantly accepted as the theme music for the evening after Marcia had played on our liberal sensibilities by revealing it to be the Guardian's album of the year.

But now I've had time to reflect on the embarrassing moment when I lost consciousness and fell backwards into Celia's Christmas bower, I realise that there was also an important psychological component. Throughout New Year's Eve I'd been unable to rid my mind of the idea that I was involved in a desperate race against time. While everyone around me was talking about new beginnings and new resolutions, I kept seeing myself as a marathon runner on the final lap who suddenly finds that their body is no longer responding to mental commands. In the very worst imaginings I'd stumbled at the final moment in front of a packed stadium of friends and colleagues and ended up lying prone across the finishing line desperately trying to haul recalcitrant parts of my anatomy into the 21st century. My head and shoulders might have made it into the next millennium but I knew that unless I made one more superhuman effort my legs and feet would for ever remain in the century to which they'd grown accustomed and in which, to be fair to them, they'd enjoyed their finest hours.

I now know that I regained consciousness after two minutes, at more or less three minutes to midnight. It was a relief to find myself once more back among friends in Muswell Hill and to learn that I hadn't seriously interfered with the lighting of Harry's Chinese fireworks or with the ceremonial opening of Janet's vintage Bollinger. But the nagging concern I had afterwards that the entire assembly might have temporarily abandoned my comatose body for at least one chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" was heightened by the news from Celia that Geoff had proposed ringing a press agency with details of my apparent demise. It seems that all week he had been listening to reports from hospitals about the number of pregnant women who were hoping that their new babies might be the first of the new millennium and it occurred to him that there might be at least equal news value in the story of someone who'd breathed their last as Big Ben was gearing up for the first chime of midnight.

I've done my best to reassure a variety of kind and curious anxious friends about my current state of health. My collapse into Celia's foliage was, I explain, only a momentary lapse of consciousness that might have been written off as nothing more than a case of severe inebriation but for its momentous timing. On balance I've decided not to mention that after regaining consciousness my first action was to raise my right hand above my head and give what could only be interpreted as an exultant victory salute.