New Years Eve 2009

My iphone flashes up with a text message. From across the steamy bathroom I manage to read, “… am saddened you shan’t be joining us … ” before I sink my head below the waterline and start worrying about whether or not we’ve made the right decision not to attend our friend’s New Year’s Eve event.

He and his partner are hosting a party this evening, you see. It’s the first party they’ve hosted for New Year. It’s the first time me and Significant Other have been invited to someone else’s New Year’s event. It will be very special for them – their first new year together – and the menu will be reliably spectacular. There are party games too. On that basis it should be the perfect new year event. Given that someone else is cooking, this particular event will demand little effort on my part, and will guarantee scintillating company, good food and a bit of fun afterwards. Lovely.

And yet it’s also an event we’ve turned down, our reason being we’d prefer to be doing “the quiet thing” tonight.

This is a joint decision, naturally. We both quite fancied having a night in – Significant Other is considerably less keen on New Year’s Eve celebrations than I am – given that we feel now in the holidays as though we’ve been with other people all Christmas (we haven’t, it just feels that way).

Needless to say, I feel like a shit. A nasty, lazy, anti-social shit.

There are plenty of times when our friends have driven over to see us of an evening – at least ten occasions when they’ve driven over for New Years. My head rises breaks the surface of the bath water. My inner parent shouts out: This year it feels like we can’t even make the effort to return that same effort. Tut tut.

Sometimes I loathe SMS.

Grumpy Old New Year came to the rescue however when I watched it earlier this afternoon.

In it a collection of middle-aged (some older specimens who we’re sure have had work done) decimated the New Year traditions.

Parties were analysed: agonisingly long and drawn out events all heading towards one single goal – midnight – which only presented the thorny dilemma of when after the big bongs it was permissable to leave for home. Was it better to host an event or attend one? What to do when cornered by a bore. Was it OK to take your own food and a chair. And, most important of all, what exactly were we marking and how do you get home afterwards? In conclusion it seemed this contrived celebration threw far more dilemmas and irritations than it opportunities for fun. Best give it a wide berth.

These are, of course, all hideously shameful excuses masking the truth about how I quite like to mark New Years Eve. No wonder for my part in the turning down our New Years invitation, I feel like a shit.

Despite most people understandably dismissing New Years Eve as an inexplicable construct missing a suitably embarrassed architect and intelligence urging me to do the same, I find the opportunities presented by a quiet ushering in of a change in year irresistable. Like appraisals, I rather enjoy the chance to reflect on things. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have anything to blog about (I’m well aware some may challenge whether I have anything to blog about anyway, thank you).

Anyone driven by seemingly pointless and unachievable goals is often reminded of the benefits of stopping to consider exactly what it is they’ve achieved. It’s certainly more realistic than the other tradition at this time of year of making shallow promises for the future, the sole purpose of which is to quell the inner critic at not having achieved enough.

That period of reflection doesn’t need to be long and drawn out. It doesn’t need to be accompanied by a massive orchestra or a breathtaking fireworks display. It doesn’t need to be a painstaking review of the previous twelve months.

It just needs to be a simple nod to the past twelve months, which in my case just so happen to have been a very good twelve months, thank you to everyone involved in that. It should also involve a mental note of how I might avoid this year’s little errors next year – I must use my left hand to operate my iPhone and adjust the height of my monitors at work to avoid RSI. All of that should be done in an office all cleaned up ready for a new year. After all, a clear desk means a clear mind.

Then it’s a glass of sparkling wine masquerading as champagne, an opportunity to peer at the fireworks from the south bank of the Thames followed by the same late night movie and bed. There’ll be no jumping up and down, no screaming “Happy New Year!” when Big Ben strikes midnight and no party poppers.

We’ll just usher in 2010 in a low-key way. I rather like that proposition. And I hope that’s OK with everyone – especially our friends whose party I hope goes with a bang.

Gosh, New Year is a troublesome time.

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