Clementine Ford: Why New Year's Eve Is Never The Firecracker You're Expecting

New Year’s Eve is rubbish and I hate it. 

I didn’t always feel this way. As a child, I loved it. But then, I also loved peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches so I think we can safely say my tastes were lacking in sophistication.

As far as the back catalogue of New Year’s Eves go, I remain most fond of those produced between 1985 and 1997. This was the time when NYE still seemed full of possibility and surprise. It was a night when Harry Burns could tell Sally Albright he loved her and you would still squeal, no matter how many times you’d watched him meet her. (Sidenote: Dozens.) All of these New Year’s Eves fell in that blissful period of innocence when you still believed there might be something significant about one year ending and another beginning. Out with the old, in with the new!

My wonder at this period of time in NYE history is almost certainly due to the fact I was four years old in 1985. Everything’s exciting to a four year old, especially if it involves staying up past their bedtime. As far as four year olds are concerned, fireworks displays are the equivalent of an adult human woman mainlining her entire body weight in cocaine and delivering a lecture on feminist theory to a roomful of men who can’t escape.

(In other words, absolutely thrilling. But also entirely theoretical, because I have absolutely no experience of what that must feel like and certainly none that’s been accrued in the last seven to 10 days.)

Harry Burns and Sally Albright spend the perfect New Year's Eve together. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

Through ages five to 15, the event managed to lose none of its shine. This was partly due to the ongoing popularity of the fireworks, but also because of the increased likelihood of indulging in some form of party favour thanks to the fact every single adult present at any NYE party I attended as a child-slash-adolescent was completely shtonkered by 9pm.

Some years this meant eating entire bags of fun size Mars bars and then whizzing around the house like a hummingbird before passing out in a heap. Later expeditions involved sneaking glasses of goon from the unsupervised esky until the whole bag had been drained. The hummingbird/passing out combination remained unchanged.

New Year’s Eve! What a great night!

But then, adulthood.

Where stolen Mars bars and siphoned goon give way to crushing existential angst and the dread fear that if this NYE isn’t the most spectacular night that’s ever spectacularly nighted, then you may as well flush the entire next year down the toilet because you have F***ED. IT. UP.

Adulthood is when you realise New Year’s Eve is an even bigger conspiracy than Christmas and Halloween, except instead of people feeling pressured to acquire things they feel pressured to acquire f***ing wisdom. They write lists about what they’ve learned, lists about what they want to unlearn, lists about what they want to change and lists about what they hope the new year will bring for them. It’s absurd.

Please note also that I’ve spent the last week doing precisely all of these things, and have included ‘hypocritical double standards’ on my list of things I would like to leave behind in the Year of our Lord 2019. (I am also planning to make a vision board to help manifest my 2020 goals *shrug emoji* #eachwaybet)

Then there are those fools who venture into The City on NYE, presumably because the odds of being vomited on by dozens of strangers are just too incredibly good to ignore. But that’s not even the worst part of it. While there are few things I can imagine wanting to do less than pick digested kebab out of my hair, queuing for hours outside a city nightclub to drink drastically overpriced cocktails made out of drain cleaner while everyone screams “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!” and tries desperately to find someone to messily pash is surely one of them.

Adults know that if this NYE isn't the best night ever, you've blown it. (Image: Getty)

Indeed, the allure of such activities remains one of life’s many mysteries, alongside whether or not planes actually land themselves (are they robots?). The whole exercise is as unedifying as a Richard Curtis ensemble film, particularly the ones that begin with ‘Love’ and end with all the middle-aged men winning a young girl for a bride and/or ego boost.

So what options are left for misanthropic curmudgeons who used up all their holiday goodwill defending Halloween and Christmas (See also: The War On...)?

Do we seek out a humble house party, this time bringing along our very own goon bags? Do we sit at home, grumbling into the ether about the waste of time, money and civic resources that go into entertaining a nation of people who have, for better or worse, learned absolutely nothing about picking up after themselves? For God’s sake, do we have to engage in some kind of disgusting activity like meditation? (I also do this regularly, please see previous reference to ‘hypocritical double standards’.)

It’s a conundrum. But perhaps it’s best not to worry too much about it. When all is said and done, the important thing to remember is that we’re all going to die. And probably horribly, because of the catastrophic climate apocalypse that’s going to define the next decade and that our elected officials have done nothing to prevent despite years of predictions! The entire country is on fire and the government is missing in action! Talk about the Roaring Twenties!!!!!!

Happy New Year!