It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’ve been feeling thoughtful…
Round about one hundred years ago, this cheerful bunch of Scotsmen (above – note the kilts!) would have been celebrating what was probably the last Hogmanay of World War One. They seem to have found what looks like a fairly comfortable billet, and, judging from the bottles at their feet, have undoubtedly indulged in a few beers and a chorus or two of Auld Lang Syne.
A century later, and the world is still fighting. And as this year finally draws to a close, I hope more than ever that we can eventually come to terms with the increasingly glaring truth that monetized hatred, bigotry and violence are slowly destroying us and our planet.
But it is also important to remember that kindness costs nothing. Thoughtfulness costs nothing. We need more of both in 2019, all over the world. We’re not broken – not yet – but we have to take all the chances we can still get as individuals, communities, governments to help rather than hinder peace.
There are lessons to be learned from World War One and its aftermath, as well as from the rise of fascism during the interwar years. We still haven’t learned them, and that needs to change. Going down that road should never be a feasible option again, anywhere.
For me, 2018 can do one, it’s been a particularly brutal year on a personal level all round. However, I hope your New Year is happy, bright and peaceful – and, as ever, I send a huge thank you to you all. I say this every year, but it remains true. I couldn’t do this without my readers.
I don’t do New Year’s Eve. Call me a party pooper if you like, but I really do not enjoy it and never have. It’s never anywhere near as much fun as we all convince ourselves it’s going to be every year, for a start. I honestly can’t figure out what’s fun about freezing your arse off in, say, central London, crammed in with thousands of other cold, drunken, slightly annoyed people, watching a few fireworks that you can see just as well (and without all the crowds) on your TV screen at home.
Then there’s the clubs. Just because it’s NYE, ticket prices suddenly go through the roof, the line-up is half-hearted at best, the drinks are both watered down and stupidly expensive, and the place is invariably full of idiots on far too much of whatever the current drug of choice is, drooling and windmilling round the dancefloor in a deeply annoying fashion and incoherently trying to chat up inanimate objects (and the occasional actual person). The loo queues will be like the first day of the January sales, and you have to freeze half to death outside if you want a cigarette. Um, no.
Just. Not. Interested.
And all that’s before you have to even think about getting home at the end of the night. Free public transport, yes, but free public transport full of lairy drunks, gaggles of screeching teenagers and the inevitable sleepyhead who passes out in a pool of vomit at the back of the night bus and ends up at Heathrow or somewhere else equally remote to the average Londoner.