On the eve of an end to enforced joy at last
It's the most hotly anticipated New Year's Eve since this time last year and I have no doubt whatsoever that it will deliver exactly the same levels of excitement and joy – in other words, none.
I hate New Year's Eve. More specifically, I hate going out on New Year's Eve and spending an evening of enforced bonhomie at a hateful party where you'd pause before deciding whether or not to extinguish the flames if 90pc of the guests were on fire. I'm being flippant: the number is more like 98pc.
This is why I'll be at home tonight, repressively avoiding any forced jollity, any drunken embraces at a bar which is six-people deep in drunkards, three-hour waits for taxis outside offices pebble-dashed in vomit or any moments of quiet reflection about how 2013 will be MY YEAR when I become the very best me I can be, some kind of souped-up uber-me with bells on.
Instead, I will probably be watching The Wire boxset, mining for the last Ferrero Rocher amid a mountain of empty wrappers and extracting great joy from the fact that at least it's not Christmas Eve and that we're finally on the home straight.
Miserable old goat, you think, as you prepare for a night of unbridled revellery and merriment, forgetting the fact that last year, as with every New Year's Eve, you too probably spent half your time stewing in a corner full of self-loathing. I know you did, you can admit it to me, I won't tell anyone.
When you're younger, admitting you'd rather be at home on New Year's Eve is on a par with confessing that you spend all your free time constructing scale models of aircraft hangars out of matchsticks or burning grasshoppers with a magnifying glass.
There is no choice in the matter: you have to go out.
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Pubs that you generally tolerate on the basis that you can sit down, have half a shandy and a quiet chat with your friends have transformed into hideous, seething rings of hell where you have more chance of an intellectual debate about relativism than you do of getting served.
One of your friends will inevitably have 'a moment' about the futility of life and will need constant pep-talks and/or trips to the toilets where you will queue in order to hold their hair back as they throw up. Another friend will have run out of money by 7.30pm.
Someone unattractive will feel they have the right to loom towards your mouth at midnight to claim a kiss you'd rather dole out to a scab-ridden escapee from a high-security prison, someone else will spill your drink seconds after you've triumphantly made a successful transaction at the bar after a 50-minute wait.
People will feel compelled to sing Auld Lang Syne, a painful dirge that no one whatsoever sings without a blood alcohol level that renders them unable to stand up, let alone think straight or hold a tune. The lyrics to the famous New Year song are, as everyone knows: 'Should old acquaintance be forgot, mumble, mumble, something, something, mmmm, mmm and (strong finish) Auld Lang Syne!'
Suddenly, Jools Holland's Hootenanny seems like a better option, which is a small measure of how appalling going out on New Year's Eve really is, especially as we all know this year's edition will have been filmed during a heatwave in August and will involve copious amounts of tiresome jazz.
One of my best New Year's Eves ever was spent in a medicine-induced semi-coma when I had kidney 'issues' and was sedated by our family doctor.
I woke at about 6pm on New Year's Day, gloriously hangover-free and definitely not looking like a souped-up uber-me with bells on, more like an extra from Trainspotting. I hadn't queued to go to the toilet, though (although this had more to do with the fact that it felt as if I was passing lava than any mad crush at my mum's house).
I hold the Romans to blame for New Year's Eve. Not only did I spend two miserable years studying Latin – male dicam Latine – and classical civilisations as a teenager, it was also those selfish, swarthy, sewer-inventing so-and-sos that established January as the first month of the year. They had it in their power to make the new year start whenever they liked, but chose January rather than, say, March 10, when it would have been lovely to have another bank holiday and, coincidentally, I could have had the day off for my birthday. I may hold my own New Year celebrations then – at least everyone knows the words to 'Happy Birthday to You'.