Here's my piece defending New Year's Eve from today's Daily Express.
Can anyone guess who the old misery guts was who wrote 'I am proud that I hate New Year's Eve'- and who assures us he'll be tucked in his bed by 10.30pm tonight?. Here's a clue- he also hates Christmas Day- but does get pleasure from cheering on illegal wars of aggression, (from a safe distance of course).
Happy New Year!
DON’T BE GLUM, IT’S THE MOST MAGICAL NIGHT OF THE YEAR
31st December 2005
Yes, it’s that time of the year again when gloomy and misanthropic social commentators dip their pens in acid and explain why they just can’t stand New Year’s Eve. Here’s one in suitably wrist-slitting mood. “To me, there is always an element of sorrow and pity involved, possibly at the idea of a load of idiots celebrating another year wasted, another load of opportunities passed by, another year of life gone”. Another writes: 'I am proud that I hate New Year’s Eve. Every year it serves up the same combination of discomfort, expense and misery…it is quite beyond me how any sentient human being could actually enjoy it’. The author of these words, who claims that his ‘proudest moment’ was going to bed at 10.30pm on December 31st 1999, and who assures us he will be doing the same this year, would no doubt heartily concur with the sentiments expressed in Woody Allen’s 1987 film Radio Days that ‘only creeps and crazy people go out on New Year’s Eve’. Expressing a hatred of New Year’s Eve and everything it stands for seems to have become fashionable in recent years-and there are no doubt millions of Britons who tonight will be long before Big Ben rings in 2006. I, however, will not be one of them. The saying ‘Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up on New Year’s Eve, middle aged is when you’re forced to‘- may hold true for some- but for me- New Year’s Eve is simply the most wonderful night of the year. I have loved New Year‘s Eve ever since, as a seven-year-old, I was allowed to stay up to watch Big Ben chime on television. More than thirty years later, I am just as excited about the coming of this most unique of evenings as I was then. In common with thousands of other ‘creeps and crazy people’, my wife and I will be spending tonight, not in bed with mugs of Horlicks, or in our living room watching Jools Holland and Natasha Kaplinsky usher in 2006 on t.v.- but celebrating New Year’s Eve in the best possible way: in the company of other members of the human race. The idea of celebrating with people you have never met before in your life-is repugnant to our misanthropic New Year’s Eve haters but the genuine camaraderie the night engenders is for me its great attraction. On 31st December 1999, while the gloom-mongers were tucked away in his bed, my wife and I were at a party in an ex-servicemen’s club in central London. Having enjoyed a few dances with the other couples and families present, we started talking with a family group at an adjoining tabel, who on hearing that our son was away in Hungary, insisted on giving us money to phone him to wish him a happy New Year we didn’t own a mobile then). As midnight approached, we made our way across to Trafalgar Square to see Big Ben chime in the millenium and to enjoy twenty minutes of greeting, kissing, and embracing total strangers. The atmosphere in central London that night was quite remarkable and the memories of it will remain with my wife and I for as long as we live. It’s true that for some, the coming of New Year’s Eve is a genuine cause of sadness. The loss of a loved one in the year which is just about to pass is heightened at the very moment the calendar changes. We all know, too, that calls to the Samaritans increase around Christmas and New Year’s Eve and that anyone who is in a bad way is going to feel worse if everyone else in the world appears to be enjoying themselves. Melancholic as the passing of the old year may be, there is every reason to accentuate the positive on New Year’s Eve. However disappointing 2005 was, here’s the perfect opportunity to start afresh. And if 2005 was a good one, let’s try to make the next year, even better. The New Year’s Eve Haters say that it’s all so arbitrary- why should one pay more attention to midnight on the 31st December than 3.47am on 15th April? What utter nonsense! New Year’s Eve denial is a sad business and the pretence that it is ‘just another night’ masks the fact that New Year spooks an awful lot of people. It forces us to take stock, to look back at the year just gone, to think about where we’re going and what we can do to make things better. Could it be that it is this process of self-analysis which the hater really wants to avoid?Whether its taking more exercise, not drinking so much, not being so grumpy in the mornings, or remembering Auntie Maud’s birthday, is there anyone who can say, in all honesty, that there is no aspect of their livesor their behaviour, which they could not improve? But before we can overcome our failings, we must first own up to them, which is why // making New Year‘s resolutions is a good idea. Even if we only keep a couple on our list -the important thing is that we at least have sat down to think about ourselves and our lives in an objective and critical manner. New Year’s Eve may indeed mark the end of one chapter but it also marks the start of another. T.S. Eliot put it beautifully: ‘For last year‘s words belong to last year‘s language/And next year‘s words await another voice/And to make an end is to make a beginning’. Far from being a night on which to take to our beds early, the passing of the old Year- and the coming of the new- really is cause for celebration.
Daily Express/Neil Clark 2005