New Year’s Eve: Pagan festival or chance to be silly?

3 Jan 2023

I am writing this in 2022, you will be reading it in 2023. I can’t remember exactly when it changed, but for the early years of my married life 1st January was not a public holiday in the UK. The Scots hi-jacked New Year’s Eve. If you had TV all you got was Hogmanay. Fireworks were a great thing in Italy, but only a recent innovation in England (‘recent’ at my age is last 20 years). Mr G reckoned waste of time, day like any other, but he got ‘converted’. I am an addict, and a kaleidoscopic picture has come into my mind of the crazy, dramatic, beautiful, occasionally stressful, ‘celebrations’ of leaving the old year behind. I don’t think 2022 will go down as a ‘vintage’ year. ‘High spots’ for me, visit to Germany, grand-daughter’s wedding and birth of another great-grandson, otherwise it was a bit grim.

Several were spent in Italy. Rome, hotel, gala dinner (spenfix) – all finished 11 p.m. Found a bar, owner’s wife just had a son, all night party. Rapallo, waiters in rival restaurants had personal fire-work displays, one dropped a cigarette in his stock and blew the restaurant windows in. Positano, night-club in marquee on beach, Buca di Bacco. Lively and very hot. At 4 a.m Mr G still wore his sweater and the youngsters were trying to improve my Italian. They remarked on his sweater, I said it was because he was a cold-blooded Englishman, untrue but raised a laugh. In Sicily they had the delightful habit of ‘shooting’ the old year out (local bobbies armed). Unfortunately they forgot people in flats higher up. Odd fatality, probably intentional. But thanks to habit of ‘Omerta’ (silence) nobody ever got sued.

The two most spectacular. On a small cruise ship (my daughter in law lectured on it) between Java and Sumatra. Dancing with a 6’4” man from Borneo. Behind the boat porpoises, phosphorence and jelly fish a metre in diameter. Then Sydney, said to have the most spectacular fire-works in the world. Second hottest day ever. In the warm early hours we wandered the 3 kilometres back to our hotel, me in a silver top hat and carrying balloons.

Here in France it was very different. If grand-children were staying we would have a big party with friends. The kids took awful liberties with usually austere neighbours. I always did a very different menu, then ran out of ideas. ‘That’s OK’ said a regular guest, ‘We’ll go round again’. Marvellous ‘do’s’ took place in village halls – the prettiest woman did not look her best at 2a.m under the awful neon lighting. Midnight was the sign for ‘anything goes’. In a corner was an inoffensive little man with a large wife. He kept his flat cap on throughout. But midnight, he was a fiend – his targets were me and my most attractive blonde daughter-in-law. Don’t know how many kisses he totted up, and what happened when he got home! Those were the days! Happy 2023 to you all, and, Peace, please. 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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