I don’t “do” New’s Year Eve. I’m not a Hogmanay kind of a guy. And no, it’s not because I’m a grouch or a curmudgeon or a hater or people (although I have been known to be all three of those things from time to time).
Once, in my early 20s, I went out with a group of friends to a lively Broadstairs pub on NYE. It had been a long-planned event, and I was encouraged to go; I was keen to spend time with my friends, so of course I said yes. It was a painful experience; not because of the people I was with, but because of my surroundings.
We were crammed into a corner – the same corner, in fact, as the DJ with his massive speakers and tendency to SHOUT EVERY WORD INTO THE MIC, terrified as he seemed to be that no-one would otherwise be able to hear him over the cacophony of noise that suffused every corner of the pub.
Getting to the loo was a near-impossibility, and I had my backside groped twice as I attempted it (the lights were down incredibly low and there was a haze of smoke – that’s how long ago we’re talking – so an act of temporary blindness on their part).
I was very glad when we staggered, temporary tinnitus ringing in our ears and throats hoarse from shouting and second-hand smoke, from the pub at some ungodly hour in the morning. I am greatly in favour of ungodly hours of the morning, but resolved then never to spend them in pubs on New Year’s Eve ever again.
I actually enjoy New Year’s Eve, as it’s a good excuse to relax – if you’re in the right company – with friends or family (or both), or perhaps even go to bed early with a good book and a cup of cocoa. I’ve spent a couple of NYEs by myself, once out of choice, in my early 30s, just to recharge my batteries after a hectic week, and once because I was ill. On that particular evening, I’d actually gone to visit some friends, but when I found myself sitting quietly in the hallway because it was the coolest part of their house, nursing a throbbing head, I soon found myself back home and in bed by 9pm. Did the trick, through; I felt brilliant the following day.
Fortunately, the sort of people I hang around with are low maintenance kind of people, even the writers. I’ve watched Big Ben on the TV, spent the evening so engrossed in card games that we hadn’t even noticed that it was midnight, and having a discussion on favourite authors cut off because what felt like a thousand party poppers exploded over my head. I may have miscounted the number of party poppers.
People exert so much effort onto their NYE plans sometimes that I wonder if it’s ever actually worth it. Investing so much energy and hope into a single evening – thinking that we should do this or that – is sad; we should do what we want, rather than what is expected of us.
I’ve come to enjoy my NYE get-togethers, in whatever form they take, and have firmly resolved to always ensure I’m ringing in a new year doing what I want with people I like; that’s a good recipe with which to start off a new year, wouldn’t you say?