Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Miscellany of New Year Melancholia

SAM PECZEK: I still don’t get excited about the apparent glorython that is the rolling on into yet another year of pointless human chaos.

I’ve long accepted that my life is an unremitting cycle of redemption and despair, and at no other time is this little gem more evident than during these particularly festive days. For the past three days I’ve been blighted with a virus that has rendered my usually accommodating stomach into a hostile warzone in which no foodstuff can remain for more than a few precious minutes before being liquidised and evacuated with startling efficiency. The tricky thing is, I feel fine a few hours later, and so have no way of knowing whether it’s safe to nibble anything until those gloriously tense moments which follow. Yes, I could just grit my teeth and fast my way through it, but that’s a somewhat grim option after the first food-free day when your stomach is starting to eat itself and everyone around you is tucking in merrily to all manner of feastsome fodder. Every time I die a gruesome little death and every time I am born again.

I’m starting to feel sort of invincible, save for those agonising bathroom interludes when it’s all very touch and go. I’ve entered a philosophical phase where I have been able to see my bathroom-centred adventures as a distilled mini-version of life itself: pesky virus or not, how many December days have I felt that this time, this time I’ve gone beyond the point of no return, only to discover that, after the gluttonous storm, a week or so of humble living serves to wash over the damage until the next year. Or my birthday. Or a boring Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking of festivities, I still don’t get excited about the apparent glorython that is the rolling on into yet another year of pointless human chaos. People are telling me to make plans; in fact, they like to make me feel bad about not having any plans, or not having any that are sufficiently painful and hedonistic. But why all the fuss? Even if we overlook the fact that time is sort of fake and meaningless, it’s still just another year. It’s not like we haven’t all seen our fair share of ’em. We don’t get quite so excited about the end of every week ... oh. So if every Friday is reason enough to drink ourselves into a bleak yet reassuringly familiar oblivion I suppose it makes sense that seeing another year to its grisly end is sufficient excuse for a blowout on a larger scale. The futility of our feeble existence endures, even as the world decays around us with growing determination.

Tis true that numerous self-obsessed bastards (ie. pretty much everyone) deem this a prime time to reflect and refocus. Beyond the vapid and the personal, there’s always the world at large to look back on in a sort of “yay! We didn’t bomb our crumbling little ball of rock and waste this year (despite the best efforts of certain folk) so let’s wreak a touch more havoc on the very last night of this year, just to help nudge our collective obliteration along a bit further” way. Think of it as a head start for next year. We’ll nuke this fucker yet.

We humans are also suckers for the notion of starting again. This is because people are not only twats, but miserable ones. Nothing is good enough; it’s all creaking along and falling apart, often getting in the way of other hobbling atrocities and making our dark little days all the more tragic and toilsome. January is the darkest of many months, but also the most magical, for it is the month of when all those changes that we think about but never sort out supposedly gleam with new potential (they don’t really; like all hopeful things, it’s pure delusion).

Needless to say, I loathe resolutions. It’s like doing up your hypothetical house just before giving it to someone else. Why only get your shit together once a year? I demand constant regeneration! We should either sort it all out or let it all rot. Pick a side and stick to it.

Even though I’m not plotting any intentional must-dos, that doesn’t stop the world outside from intervening. Oh yes, at the dawn of our next year I have to find somewhere new to live, not because I want to, but because the landowning powers have decided this would be the most amusing time to chuck the rent children out of house and watch them scatter in the directions of ever more destitute abodes. No doubt I’ll grumble at length over this later, once new developments raise their ugly stumps.

In the meantime, I wish you all well. Not that it makes any difference, since we’re all screwed into our hopeless cycles. Like vermin trapped in our respective hamster wheels, we must trudge on, metaphorical boats braced against the current … These are indeed good times. Lap them up while they last. Read more by Sam.  

SELINA NWULU: Resolutions are made and forgotten within the month and life rolls on. Why does everyone think that the stroke of midnight will suddenly make their lives new and whole?

Ah yes, the shambles that is New Year’s Eve is upon us. Why don’t we all just fast forward to the communal self loathing and pity and save ourselves the big hassle already? The chances are, either you or a friend have had a bad year, so any way you look at it, you’ll either need or be a tipsy shoulder to cry on at the end of the night.

I just feel a bit weary with it. Does it have to be such a big deal? I just want to hide under my duvet and leave the over-zealous with their firework planning, champagne and extravagant plans to their own devices. Because it really isn’t a new year; it’s another day with problems and issues that overflow into the next morning. Resolutions are made and forgotten within the month and life rolls on exactly the same as it was. Why does everyone think that the stroke of midnight and a new calendar will suddenly make their lives new and whole?

Mind you, there are a few things New Year’s Eve has the amazing ability to achieve: bank balances deplete significantly, shabby middle of the road pubs get cocky and suddenly have to power to charge £15+ on entry, taxis become more expensive and people more foolish. Much like birthdays, everyone talks a big game but you depressingly feel exactly the same. Will we ever learn?

And it’s all this hype and big talk that makes you feel like a loser if you don’t participate. Someone asked me one year what I was going to do for New Year’s Eve, and when I said “nothing special” she looked at me like a was some kind of abandoned stray dog – lost, alone and spat out by society. No, love, I just couldn’t be bothered to pay bucketloads to have a mediocre time; isn’t that what The X Factor tour is for? And I’m guessing I’ll have the rest of the year to look forward to that particular gem.

Do we have some kind of deficiency that enables us to forget previous crappy New Year’s nights? Friends who’ve had the worst night out on previous years spring back and go to the same places and do the exact same things the next year. I don’t know how many post-New Year stories I hear that are exactly the same, all of which being of the “I drank too much/spent too much/have a suspicious roadwork sign/cowboy hat/feather boa in my room” variety. And most commonly: “I had a rubbish time.”

This year I, too, have been sucked in, and I have remembered why I hate it: the pressure of planning, the hassle dealing with plans that go awry, that are cancelled and rearranged at the last minute. The panic, as we get nearer to the night, of not having everything completely planned and having nothing to wear. The ironic thing is that throughout all this kerfuffel and stress, I actually don’t care, not really. So why bother?!

Despite my “New Year’s Eve house parties are key” mantra, I have reluctantly paid a ridiculous price to go clubbing and so I will be making sure I have the best time possible by practising my killer (because they are so bad) moves on the dance floor. However I have a feeling that it will all seem (even more) ludicrous and excessive in the cold light of day.

So, all said and done, a very Happy New Year to you all. May your night (and year) be genuinely joyful ... However, if it is more blue than new take consolation in the fact that misery is the nation’s best friend and it always loves a bit of company. Read more by Selina.

SHERMAINE WILLIAMS: We all must celebrate the fact that the earth is continuing its journey around the sun, and that requires spending time in ridiculously painful shoes.

There is at least one benefit to living one’s teenage years in a somewhat debauched manner: I learnt exactly how bad New Year celebrations can really be. If it’s bad when you’re 18 years old, it certainly isn’t going to get any better when you’re rapidly approaching 30.

I don’t know about you but, as I get older, I find myself less inclined to do the things that I did when I was younger. Teenage Me had boundless energy – she was fearless and nonsensical. Now, though, all the hassle it takes to organise even a minor celebration proves exhausting – and that is before actually leaving the house. Everything has to be sorted out well in advance and plans made in accordance with what friends and family are doing.

Do I really want to go out in freezing temperatures wearing less than I would normally go to bed in? Of course not! I want to wear clothes that can comfortably accommodate thermal underwear, but that’s unacceptable because the celebration demands that an effort be made. We all must celebrate the fact that the earth is continuing its journey around the sun, and that requires spending time getting ready, getting your hair done, wearing skimpy clothes and ridiculously painful shoes.

And despite all the strategies created with military precision, one (if not several) of the group will invariably get stuck in traffic or on public transport, prompting a flurry of texts and calls, many of which don’t get through, leading only to further confusion. Teenage Me would think nothing of spending much of the freezing night standing in a queue to get into a club that is already filled to capacity, only to pay for the privilege of storing my coat on a hanger as my brand new hairstyle flops from the sudden temperature change. Present Me isn’t so easily swayed by the promise of a good time.

Yes, there may well be a great DJ, but who cares about that when you don’t have enough room to dance? Who wants to be in a club where a fight breaks out on the packed dance floor because children have managed to find their way into the club? Struggling to move is not my idea of fun.

One year, the icing on the cake was having a drink thrown over me at the stroke of midnight as some over-excited reveller jumped up and took their drink with them. After that anti-climax, all that was left was to fight for a cab home and pay over the odds for it.

It all served a purpose, though: I learnt early on that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to New Year celebrations. I don’t care what other people are doing and don’t feel obliged to follow their lead, even if bacchanal is the order of the day. No, I’ll do my own thing, thank you – sans frostbite, bunions and alcohol-soaked clothes. Read more by Shermaine.

Happy New Year, everyone,
from the bottom of our grumpy hearts