Why all the fuss over New Year? It’s only another day after all.I’m sitting here at just after nine o’clock in the morning on the first of January. Outside the weather is not being kind in North Wiltshire so not many people are about, but there is little sign of life in any of the houses as yet, but I have been up for three hours now and the Berkshire Belle surfaced a couple of hours since. Neither of us has any enthusiasm for sitting up ’til gone midnight and are usually fast asleep not long after eleven only to be woken by assorted drunken neighbours letting off fireworks and screaming and yelling in the street from around midnight until getting on for one o’clock. Presumably these late night revels are why they are all still in bed now, but whilst I don’t celebrate New Year myself I don’t object to others having a good time; I just object to them inflicting themselves on me.
As a boy there were times when my parents would wake us kids at midnight to see the new year in. I seem to remember my mother having a thing about opening the front door to let the old year out and the new one in as well as one or two other rituals that seemed odd to me then, but that would have been the age gap if nothing else. New year resolutions were made in silence which gave me the idea of resolving not to make any and I haven’t made one since about 1963 as a result. By the time I reached my teen age I had come to regard the whole thing as a bore for in those days many of the shops closed on Christmas eve and didn’t open again until the 2nd of January so I couldn’t even go out and spend my paper round money or any postal orders received for Christmas; it all seemed such a waste of time.
Once I had left school and gained a little freedom there seemed the opportunity to re-visit this New Year Party thing, but such gatherings were supervised by the parents in whichever house you visited and even if you did the round of a few all of your pals were expected to be back at their own homes for midnight so it all petered out a bit. At 18 a pal and I decided to venture up West and caught the train into London to make our way to Trafalgar Square. It was heaving and not much fun so we battled around until we found a pub that we could get into, but all we managed there was to get inside the doors; getting to the bar was out of the question. having intercepted a couple of the pints that were being passed back from those at the front we made our way back to Fenchurch Street and caught to train back to Upminster in time to visit the pub next door. The barman suggested black velvet as a way to get us quickly into the spirit, but it tasted awful and even a second pint each seemed to have little effect. We shook hands and made our way back to our respective homes.
The next year I was working as a barman myself and the evening flew by. A well known former England soccer international, his business partner and their wives were regulars and to give them some space we had locked them into the off-licence between the public and saloon bars from where they could come through behind the bar and serve themselves. Once we had got everyone else out after midnight our celebrity guests washed and cleaned up for us and then we all had a drink together before heading home at about three o’clock. It was the best new year’s eve I had enjoyed.
I was working behind a different bar the following year when there was a major fight. I grabbed the drawer out of the till and the other barman and I locked ourselves in the storage area behind that cellar disco bar until the Police had sorted things out. By the time we had cleared up all of the broken glass it was gone midnight and the other bars in the pub had also closed. The fight and the damage had put a damper on things so after handshakes and kisses, as appropriate, all round we had a comparatively early night; we would all be back later that day in any case.
Since then I have not deliberately been up and about at midnight on new year’s eve; I have always been in bed and, until the last few years, been able to sleep through undisturbed, but the fad for rowdy behaviour and fireworks have gradually eroded my peace to the point where I could cheerfully obtain a bull-horn and walk around at six in the morning shouting Happy New Year to those that had broken my sleep. I won’t though, for to do so would bring me down to the level of the inconsiderate folks whose behaviour disturbs me. Besides, I am not the only one who behaves quietly at midnight and why should I upset such others?
No, for me it’s just another day with no significance other that I need to remember to use a different number. I still wish the world peace and contentment though; I just do it quietly.