New Year's Eve: the biggest, most fun filled night of the year. Or is it really an overrated mess that generally ends up being a massive disappointment? Tonight, we'll find out! I don't have long to write this as my New Year's Eve extravaganza starts in 90 mins so no interrupting. This year's offering is a takeaway, film and maybe a game with the rest of the Banana Heads and my lovely Mother-in-law. Yes, they do exist and she's the best! She might read this so I need to be nice.
We'll probably go to bed around 11 if we're feeling hardcore, grateful that we don't have to watch the New Year come in with Jools Holland and his Hogmanay Band. The first time I watched it I was enthusiastic and really enjoyed the music, the chat and the occasional awkwardness of the guests. Now, the thought of watching it fills me with dread. It's a bit like going to see your child perform in the concert at school when they're in nursery or reception. You don't mind seeing all the other classes as well as they're all cute and you're so proud to see your little angel perform. By the time it comes to Year 4 you stand at the back of the room on your phone and as soon as your child's done you're out of there. I know, I'm a bad parent!!
I don't have many memories of my childhood; possibly due to aliens erasing my memory or that we're all in the Matrix. The first NYE I remember, it was 1983 and I was 13. My parents had a party and I, along with a friend acted as DJ's. We played some 80's smashes by Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and threw in some Rene and Renata and Musical Youth to mix it up. I remember having a great time although thinking about it now; why on earth did I want to spend NYE or any night in fact, partying with my parents? No disrespect Ma and Pa, I love you both dearly, but didn't I have a life then? If I'm honest, not really. No big group of friends, just me and my two besties. We thought of ourselves as the three Musketeers, but the truth is we were the original In-Betweeners. Decidedly not cool but not bad enough to be nerds or swots.
I was most definitely Will but not a briefcase W****R. Saying that, I did get three briefcases for my Barmitzvah but I would never have dreamt of taking one to school. Actually, it would have been quite practical thinking about it. OMG, I AM Will, even now!! Moving onto the mid-eighties, I was 17 or 18 and we spent NYE at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch at some massive party full of Northwest London's most eligible teenagers. Ok, so it was really full of everyone that went for the same reason we did; to get a New Year's snog at midnight. We'd heard that all you had to do was say, "Happy New Year" to people at midnight and everyone would snog you. We were so excited. It came to midnight, and we set off to see who could snog the most people.
If I'm honest, I had mixed success; the first few people either walked the other way as I approached them or said "Happy New Year" back and ran. Someone threw up on my shoes as I was cheerfully between Happy and New. Undeterred I carried on and eventually got my first kiss. It lasted about 7 seconds and before I could dazzle her with my favourite chat up line at the time, "So, who's your favourite James Bond" she was already snogging someone else. By the time we finished I was very proud of my 3 snogs. That was until we all met up to compare numbers. "I snogged 15", "I snogged 18", I snogged 27." Crestfallen, I smiled and went for something a bit less embarrassing but still a complete lie. "I snogged 12 girls but we had really nice chats too. The others weren't impressed and called me a loser.
OK, half an hour left so I’ll have to summarise most of the remaining NYE's. There were quite a few at Paradise Lost, Kudos and Destiny in Watford. Same place, lots of re-brands. They generally involved us walking around the club all night, drinking, trying to dance and then going home skint and fed up at 3am. They were all pretty unspectacular and have all merged into one over the years. There was one late 80's where the three of us went to the Agra Indian Restaurant for dinner followed by Colindale Snooker Club to play on the best fruit machine in the world, King Tut. In the restaurant I had plain rice and nam bread as I hadn't yet managed to eat anything other than Macaroni cheese for years. At the snooker club we all put money in to try and win the £100 King Tut jackpot together. Literally one minute after my money ran out the two of them won the jackpot. Another NYE livid moment.
NYE 1999 I was in Eilat and a load of us went to a beach nightclub to bring in the New Millennium. It was great fun until I decided to have a puff of someone's cigarette as I was drunk. The only time I ever smoked cigarettes were the very drunk and thankfully short lived, "Give us a puff" moments. My brother told me to put it out as I didn't smoke. I laughed in his face, he punched me in mine and we ended up being thrown out by the bouncers for fighting.
Five years ago, it was our friend's 40th and she had a NYE party at home. We'd been looking forward to it all year, (sad but true) we didn't really get out that much, so this was massive. I was driving and whilst Rachel drunk a bucket of Prosecco, I proceeded to eat the contents of the buffet table. That was definitely a good NYE. Not so much my eating although the food was good. I've had a couple of NYEs in Thailand mid 90s with one of the other in-betweeners and one in Amsterdam. I've also had a lot at home over the years, mostly post having children where we've done nothing.
Overall, throughout my life my personal experience of New Year's Eves has been mostly disappointing. Until now I didn't understand why. It was always the expectation that was the problem. It was to be a great night, never to be forgotten (unless aliens or the Matrix messed with you). The reality was that clubbing was exorbitantly expensive and it was the same as every other night just with added drunken Auld Lang Syne at the end. I don't regret any of them, even the totally vanilla Agra meal where every other customer was over 60. I'm grateful to have lived through all of it and be here today to enjoy a nice takeaway, watching "Don't Look Up" on Netflix and maybe even a quick game of Monopoly, (is that ever possible??)
I wish you all a happy, healthy and fingers crossed restriction free 2022.