New Year, New Me by Craig Deeley
So, here we are, a brand new year. I can’t get used to writing 2015; only today I wrote 1997 on a cheque.
With the dawning of a new year comes a swathe of Facebook users posted the update, “new year, new me.” Just like they did last year. New Year is a funny old time; it’s not as festive as Christmas, but we feel we compelled to make the most of it because it’s a public holiday.
This year I spent a lovely, low-key evening in a small pub with friends, music and food, then at midnight everyone got together and sang Auld Lang Syne in the traditional way: one verse followed by the chorus 22 times. I remember my first ever experience of Auld Lang Syne – I was about 10, it was at a house party of friends of my parents; just before midnight, everyone went out into the street, waited for Big Ben’s chimes on the radio, counted down, linked arms and sang in the icy cold air. It was a strange experience but it had everything a child could enjoy: standing in a circle, group singing, and funny, made-up words. I also remember several New Year’s Eves at my grandparents’ house – my nan (the same one from my Christmas blog who used to throw walnuts) used to open the front and back doors to let the old year out and the new year in. There was also a ritual with a lump of coal; I can’t remember exactly what she did with it, but we were just thankful she didn’t throw it.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea of course, and I think one of the problems New Year’s Eve has, is that it comes at the wrong time. We’ve just had Christmas: this is a day that can take months of planning, you can feel the build-up, and you just hope it lives up to the hype and that members of the family survive. Once the big day is out of the way, we have Boxing Day which is a kind of Christmas Day+1.
During the days that follow, although we never really know what actual day it is, we feel safe in the knowledge that this most stressful occasion is now out of the way again for another year; we relax, we come down from the festive high. Many people go back to work. And then New Year’s Eve looms into view like an annoying auntie at a wedding forcing you to dance, or else face the stigma of being known as a misery guts. I have an issue with forced fun, which is the main reason I’ve never done Zumba.
Pretty soon the word ‘resolution’ begins to be bandied about. “Have you made any resolutions?” people ask as they poke their head around my ‘Don’t ask me about resolutions’ placard. We’re all encouraged to give things up or to start new things. This year I’ve decided that I’m going to officially give up aubergines. Forever. Being semi-vegetarian I think it’s expected that I just like all vegetables, but when I tell people I don’t like aubergines, I’m generally confronted with disbelief, which then leads to them telling me that the reason I don’t like them is because I’m doing something wrong. “You’re not cooking them right”, I hear. “You haven’t tasted MY aubergines”, “Everyone knows that before you cook them you have to coax the toxins out with a bit of bacon”. This isn’t just me being a fussy eater – for the most part I will try most things, although I do draw the line at peas and baked beans on the same plate. I have tried eating aubergines. Over the years I have attempted to accept them in the same way I grew to love (well, tolerate) olives, sprouts and raw tomatoes. But with age comes confidence, and now I have the confidence to reply to incredulous aubergine lovers, “have you ever considered that they’re just horrible?” As I’m giving something up, I should really begin something new to redress the balance, so I’ve decided to try more types of gin in 2015.
Getting fit is one of the more clichéd resolutions that people make. I’ve been a member of a gym for many years. Sometimes I go religiously, by which I mean once at Christmas and again at Easter. I have periods where I do really enjoy my gym; if you get there early enough you can get the best seats in the TV area. I was excited recently when I heard that the gym had a new machine, but excitement turned to disappointment when I discovered it wasn’t a vending machine. If you go to my gym on January 2nd, long-time members will be complaining that they can’t get on any equipment because of all these newbies. If you go back a week later, these same long-standing members will be remarking how quiet it is. Or so I’ve heard.