We are already past the solstice. This turning of the calendar is no more than an arbitrary tick. Nevertheless it is helpful to mark it. So we do.
In London the tradition is to pack as many people as possible into as small a space as possible and then pump it full of alcohol and loud music. I’m no stranger to party, but there’s something desperate about this night which has never quite chimed with me. Even as a kid in Switzerland it would be a night where everybody would go mental. The millennium in central London – God, it was like the black hole of Calcutta. If all the planes had dropped out of the sky at least I’d have died quickly. I remember standing rigid, packed in at the top of the Aldwych watching the back of somebody’s head, and hearing something go bang a bit behind nearby buildings. Then returning to a boiling hot thumping basement where they wanted a tenner for a Moscow Mule and you needed a few of them to help you forget the amount of money you burnt to get through the door in the first place.
I’m going into the epicentre again for midnight, but with very different intentions. I’m trying for a month in which I adjust various expensive and unhelpful lifestyle habits and I’m going to set some intentions before it starts. I want to have a peaceful evening in a crazy place, and see if I can shift to a calm and productive state in the coming year. There’s stuff I’m making in January which needs to be made well. I’m already feeling swamped. Taking booze out of the equation for the month would be extremely helpful, especially as much of what I’m preparing to do will involve working two jobs simultaneously and driving around late at night. I’ll be tired anyway without a hangover and a bad diet. And so many people will be off the sauce and on a self care tip that solidarity will be possible. They’ve even given the month annoying names and they’re gunning up a whole swill of health marketing for good measure. That’ll make it considerably easier and vastly more annoying to do. But sometimes it’s harmless and even comforting to moo with the herd for a bit.
I’m on a free tube home and it’s only just 2am. I can’t say I was entirely innocent of vice but I can say that I was better behaved than the usual New Year Al, by a country mile. Hopefully my behaviour will reflect my successes. I’ve got high hopes for 2019.
I saw in the year standing on the street by The Old Vic watching the fireworks with some very dear friends. We had been putting the world to rights and doing various ritualistic stuff. Burning bad things, burying intentions, and marking the change. Then we joined the crowd and delighted in the ingenuity that an understanding of fire and a communicative ability has given our species. Fucking great big exploding bulbs of multicoloured banging flame bursting into the darkness above us as we all collectively marvelled. The stink of cordite. The roar of the crowd. A scientific form of theatre.
Now I’m heading home for a reasonable new year bedtime and a clean launch into the year. Have a spanking time my lovelies.
“tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—”