Happy New Year!!

It’s 9.30 pm new year’s eve in Hong Kong. For the first time in a few years I am not really going to celebrate it. H has gone out to a party and to see the fireworks on the harbour but 400,000 people crowding to see them rather put me off. So its a quiet night in reflecting on new year’s past.

My first memory of new year as an event takes me back to when I was less than 12 (I can remember I was still living in Barnsley but not the precise year). I had tried to get my parents to let me stay up but they flatly refused. I guess it was not seen as a big celebration in 1962/3. I decided to have my own secret celebration. I bought myself a packet of Spangles  (only the older reader will remember them) and decided I would stay awake and at midnight bring in the new year by eating my spangles. However going to bed early meant it was a long long time to midnight. It was also very cold, no central heating in those days. If I stayed still beneath the flannelette sheets and mountains of blankets I could keep my then slender body (yes I know hard to believe!!!) warm. It was so cold I could see the breath as I breathed out. I had wanted to play the radio but my Dad shouted upstairs to go to sleep so I abandoned that idea. As the evening wore on the spangles diminished in number until I had just one left. Eventually my watch clicked towards midnight. I waited until I was sure it was midnight and then ceremoniously ate my final spangles wished myself happy new year and fell asleep in seconds absolutely exhausted.

Spangles the soft-boiled sweet of the 60s and 70s

I have no other memories of new year’s eve until I was past my student days and beginning to work and living in Conisbrough. I remember deciding I would have a new year’s eve party and set about inviting my friends. I also remember it snowing terribly that day and this reduced the number though over 10 people came. I can recall fetching I and his wife from nearby Denaby in the car and sliding off the road more than once. A couple came from Hull, N who I had fancied when we studied together in Hull but who was married to T, a deeply unlikable guy but with whom she seemed to be content to be with. J and H from Liverpool also came. The evening went well, with food and games – though a game of charades almost got nasty when the aforementioned T, tried to get difficult with N, another male friend of mine. In the end a fight was averted and midnight was reached without further incident. However T who had continued to drink decided he and N would go home. This was sheer folly as it was an hour’s drive in good weather and the snow was thick on the ground. Alas he could not be dissuaded. I was sent out to the car to firstly try and dissuade him and then to get N to come back and let him go alone. But she stayed there, looking deeply unhappy.

I was not to hear from them for many years but finally heard that they had got home but the unhappiness we had seen proved to be the last straw and N had divorced T and was now happily living with girlfriend S. But it was a tense end to the evening.

After that new year disappears from view, as I got married, had a child, became ill, had another child and got separated and then divorced which did not leave a lot of time for celebrations!! My next batch of new year’s that I recall were at the house of a probation friend of mine, T and his family. They had started to hold parties for friends with young children who would not otherwise be able to go out. This was a great idea and created wonderful nights where the kids played, then fought, then got tired, then got excited around new year then one by one simply collapsed where they played and slept soundly. The adults, having located the resting place of their child then drank into the early hours and enjoyed the freedom of it all. I went 2 or 3 times and had some great evenings.

After that new year once agin became a little quiet, usually with an invited set of friends for dinner but nothing remarkable springs to mind. I guess the big party era had passed me by as I had become a single parent and found it easier to be around home and keeping an eye on my maturing off spring.

A few year’s ago I began having dinner with R and J. Both of whom were not that keen on celebrating new year and would gladly go to bed before the clock struck 12. I agreed to have dinner with them on condition that they stayed up until 12 and the result has been the last 3/4 years enjoying a muted but comfortable night, thinking back and looking forward. I would I guess be doing that today if I were in the UK but as I am not there I shall be staying in the apartment. Actually it would suit R and J to celebrate Hong kong style so they could be in bed by about 6 pm!!

Anyway this short trip down new year’s eve suggests a night which has not yielded the sort of memorable nights that other festive occasions have had. I guess its a night where if you get locked into a tradition it becomes important to continue it year on year.But my traditions have always broken down and so it remains a muted affair. nevertheless it is a reflective night of the year, one where you look back and hoping look forward seeking fresh horizons for the coming year. To any of my friends who are reading my blogs and to those I do not know who are doing the same, Happy New year to you all!! Have a Spangle on me!!

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