Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years' Eves I have known

I was watching Tennessee against Virginia Tech in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl ( great cow ads!) till Dr.Motes fell asleep and I switched to After The Thin Man on TCM, which starts with a New Year's Eve party. And it set me to wondering, as we used to say ponderously in pre-twitter days, what on earth I"d done with all the New Years' Eves in my life.

When I was growing up in England New Year's Eve was something the Scots did over the border, a rowdy Celtic fringe night of drunkeness and broken glass. Of course, when I was small the war was on, which would have dampened down the Scots, even in Glasgow, so it was blackout curtaining and quiet. Living it up with noise and lights after dark would have been a kind of Fawlty Towers scenario: "Lights out, colonel! Bloody Jerry's coming ovah!"

As a teenager I remember opening the front door at midnight out into the cold to hear the train whistles going full blast. And once I went up to London, only forty minutes away, and joined everyone in Trafalgar Square. That must have been in my early Nuclear Disarmament days when I was confident of the benevolence of crowds: lots of smiling and greetings and a man in a green kilt twirling around by himself.

Then, teaching in Yugoslavia, and taking the train up to Belgrade for New Year to be with Mirka and Duska with their new husbands and all the old friends with their husbands or serious boy friends, out to the restaurants and me not allowed to pay for myself (no husband, no boyfriend) and the glasses raised at midnight. Everyone turning to me with the fervent wish: "Here's to Mary and her happiness in the New Year!" (i.e.: Find a husband! Or at least a regular boyfriend- and stay away from those Albanians! )

Then along came Dr. Motes, and it was a New Year in Greece and up on the roof of our hostel in Athens, looking down at the city and me dancing round the tables with local Greeks showing off that I was not so English after all, but what we both remember most clearly was the Greek girl sobbing at the foot of the stairs. Her brother had just been killed in Cyprus.

And then the US: pregnant and poor, two weary horticultural workers, cold fronts and worry over orchids, toddlers and no baby sitters. We didn't have carpets or curtains and NO TV! How could you get a teenager to come with no TV? Especially in the Miami area. Maybe somewhere in Vermont or a New Age commune in New Mexico...

And then much later, the young 'uns having bonfires out back, promising to be quiet and later on, swiping beers and promising to be quiet.
And now it's college football and with Dr Motes dozing off,(still the horticultural worker!) and Tennessee losing momentum, wouldn't it be a wonderful way to start the New Year by going to bed early? Basically sober and bright-eyed? An Early Night!! A New Year present to myself.

You kidding? Let's see: It's After the Thin Man on TCM, god bless them! A sparkling, smart comedy. It's white wine and popcorn, fireworks occasionally thumping outside, cosy inside. Lucky me.

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