Over the last few days, I have had several conversations that started exactly like this:
Shiny-Happy Person: "So what you are doing for New Year's Eve then?'
Slightly Less Shiny-Happy Person: "Nothing. [Puzzled look]. Nothing? Nothing?!"
This is often the cue for Shiny-Happy Person's face to scrunch involuntarily, as if they have accidentally swallowed a flagon of vinegar. Or they're doing a particularly bad Lee Evans impression. Polite person that I - of course - am, I try to explain the reasons why I find New Year's Eve the most overrated day of the year, only for them to then look at me like I'm speaking Martian.
These days my ideal New Year's Eve involves a quiet night in with my husband: simple meal, glass or two of Prosecco, bed by 10.30pm - earplugs stuffed tightly in place to muffle the boozy shrieks and brief wham-bam of fireworks.
Avoiding the herd on New Year's Eve brings all sorts of advantages that I didn't properly appreciate when I was in my early 20s and, frankly, didn't know better. For a start, I don't have to pay ridiculous restaurant prices for their 'Special New Year's Eve menu' (that's special as in twice the price for a set menu with half as many options and a 'complimentary'glass of cheap fizz). And neither do I have to pay to get into exactly the same boozer I might frequent for free on any other day in the year. Even if a pub doesn't charge, you usually have to arrive at 6.30pm just to get a seat.
Then there's the crushing queues for overpriced drinks. The forced jocularity. Having to nod my head in agreement when I can't actually hear what someone is saying because the pub is so loud. And at some point you know there will be a slanging match over something utterly inconsequential followed by pushing, pointing and a squalid ruck.
Happy New Year everybody!
In my free-spirited days I'd usually drink half my own bodyweight by 11pm and secretly crave the soft, warming, comfort of my duvet and about 15 hours sleep. But I couldn't leave because I felt I had to see in the new year. Just like everyone else. So I did. The fireworks were fun, and so were the 15 minutes of bonhomie - even if most of it consisted of electronic beeps from mobile phones, resolutions quickly made and broken, and people telling each other "I loves you ... I really loves you. No, I really, really loves you!"
But usually by 12.15am, the air was rapidly being let out of this gigantic floating white elephant. The hangover would kick in. And, at some point the journey home would start. Tube queues five deep. Buses and trains packed with dazed and sometimes dangerous people. Taxis overpriced and hard to find. The stench of vomit.
That's not much different than a typical Friday or Saturday night, you might counter. And you'd be mostly right. But New Year's Eve is regarded by most people as something special when the fact is it's gigantically overhyped, over-priced and something that rarely delivers much more than a massive hole in your wallet - and a thumping headache the next day.
By: Kate Carter
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