I actually had an enjoyable New Year this year. It was a night noticeably devoid of stress, disappointment and endless walking about. We made a decision just to stay in the local pub, allowing ourselves the luxury of being able to walk home in 10 minutes after it was all done, rather than the torturous and sobering two hour wait at a bus stop and further two hour journey home on a nightbus.
People hype New Year’s Eve up to the point that it inevitably ends up being a bitter disappointment. Unless you’ve got the whole thing planned out you end up wandering about, getting stuck between locations and watching the clock tick by into the early hours of the morning.
New Year in central London is quite frankly a disgrace. An experience I never intend on repeating ever again. Two years ago we went down, along with thousands of other people, to Waterloo Bridge to watch the fireworks from the Southbank. All was well and good until the bridge got so full that the police barricaded us on and kettled us in for about two hours. The fireworks lasted roughly ten minutes and then it was a free-for-all trying to get out. Central London slid into depravity and anarchy. Broken glass and paper covering the streets. People fighting with police. Yobs sitting on top of portable-urinals chanting “Oi oi oi!”. Bottles flying though the air, smashing on the pavement all around us. It felt like we were trying to escape a crowd leaving a football match where both sides had lost. Quite contrary to the happy, inclusive and celebratory spirit that should characterise our first steps into the new year, it felt more like judgement day. An utter disgrace for our capital city.
On so many occasions the evening has descended into sheer farce. How many times have people looked up to realise that twelve o’clock has been and gone without so much as a whistle? Or how many times have you all stood in a room, agitatedly watching the clock in preparation, vowing not to miss it like last year, ceremoniously joining hands in a circle and beginning the countdown -10, 9, 8, 7….. before someone says while authoritatively holding their finger up in the air, “No wait, hang on a minute ….. 9, 8, 7, 6….. no, sorry… 7, 6, 5?” Get it right!
And then just as you think you’ve got it worked out you hear drifting in from the adjacent flat – “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?” a whole 5 seconds early. “Ah bollocks!” We all spring into action, violently shaking each others hands up and down while we attempt to join in with a song that no one actually knows the words of, to a tune only a handful of the group can remember.
Why hasn’t anyone ever got the right time? Next year I’m going to stand right on the Meridian Line, just so I can be damn sure.