New year, what new year?

Pease Way partyI don’t know about you but there’s not been much of a new year’s feeling round here. Granted we’ve had the big firework shows in the world’s big cities and pubs, clubs and restaurants have been running more expensive New Year’s Eve events but on the ground I’ve got the feeling that many people just don’t see it as such a big deal. Certainly the TV channels don’t with their offering of films, talk shows with ‘less than A’ list celebrities and specials recorded some weeks or months in advance.

Personally I couldn’t be bothered and with a persistent cold I went to bed before midnight. That’s probably a first for 60 years but looking back and I can’t think of many New Year’s Eves that have been worth the effort.

Way back New Year’s Eve didn’t seem to be a big deal. You left it to the Scots who seemed to get excited by it. You just had a couple of days off for Xmas and then back to work.

It wasn’t until 1974 that New Year’s Day was declared a public holiday which gave licence to stay up late the night before, which many people did anyway. It also meant that there would now only be three working days between Xmas and the New Year which gave people a break of nine days if they chose to take them as holidays. This has now morphed into a two week shutdown as factories and offices close to save on their electricity bills. It’s not difficult to imagine the impact this has on the GNP of the country.

We lived in Switzerland for many years where 2 Jan was also a public holiday. That potentially gave an eleven day stretch which included just three working days. The twist there however was that if the public holidays fell on Saturday and Sunday you lost them so business as usual! This practice doesn’t seem to have changed which maybe reflects a national attitude to work.

Most of my new year celebrations have been pretty humdrum. Maybe an evening at the pub with friends, sometimes a bit of a low-key party, more often recently at home. Although in Switzerland you did get to listen to church bells at midnight and nowadays in the UK somebody will be setting off fireworks. Just a few bear recollection. And note that I do stretch the definition to include New Year’s Day.

Lunch at the Japanese ambassador’s residence. In the early 70s I had a friend with a Japanese’s wife. She’d been told about an ‘open house’ at the Japanese ambassador’s house on New Year’s Day so we went along. Anyway it wasn’t exactly open house, an invite would have been useful, but the doorman allowed us in after a little light third degree. There was an amazing spread and the champagne flowed freely.

Drinks on the beach in St Lucia. I’ve always felt that Xmas is best celebrated at home and in a cold climate but that New Year is something else. In the early 90s we spent Xmas in St Lucia, it was just after my hip op mid year and I was unemployed at the time, and once you got to accept Father Christmas arriving on water skies it was perfect. Best of all though was the New Year’s Eve party by the pool/on the beach with free drinks.

Middle aged people behaving badly. In the late 90s/early noughties we lived on a small housing estate, in fact we still do, and several of the residents were ‘of an age’: early/mid 50s with kids moving on. We had a couple of street New Year’s Eve parties in one house or another. We dressed up, DJs and posh frocks, drank a little too much and generally behaved in a way that we told our kids not to (see photo above).

That’s about it. For 2019/20 I have a plan to spend the new year somewhere warm. Maybe that will be worth reporting on.

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