It’s hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since the year began with a 1 instead of a 2. I remember that New Years Eve (2000) we had Bob and John staying over. We played Trivial Pursuit while waiting for the New Year. At midnight John played Auld Lang Syne on his accordion in the front garden and our neighbours shot off impressive fireworks in the street. The next morning we all went and did a 14 mile race.
The weekend before that, Bill and I had sat at the kitchen table and discussed – fantasized if you want to be right about it – how we might cope if the then-feared ‘Millenium bug’ actually materialized and shut down the computerized world on which everyone relied. We believed we had sufficient food to last at least a couple of months if not more, though we would soon run out of milk, which would be tough to do without. We figured our coal burning fireplaces might work again if we unstopped the chimneys. There is a lot of coal just lying around this area in piles; it also washes up on some of the beaches nearby. Alternatively we thought we might take firewood lying around in the park near us. We thought to start a vegetable garden in the spring with any seeds we had on hand or could begin to harvest. There are plenty of pigeons at the Metro station and rabbits are common around here, though we decided we’d likely be vegetarian if we had to kill the things ourselves. We could fish in the sea or the river, both being close to hand. We had bicycles for transport. We have all sorts of books on self-sufficiency.
I was all set to ditch the briefcase and high heels! It was silly day-dreaming, but fun. Sometimes one can understand while the whole survivalist thing in the U.S. appeals: life looks altogether simpler; we forget how much harder. I was almost disappointed when I got up in 2000 and everything still worked. I had no idea at that time that I would in fact be retired before the Naughties were through.
One New Year’s Eve since then we had dinner at the Grand Hotel in Tynemouth. It was a lovely, elegant occasion. It snowed and as our table overlooked the beach we had a wonderful view. The buffet food included everything and was completely over the top, including a formal presentation of a pig – one with an apple stuck in its mouth and everything. The table decorations were beautiful, the people at the tables near us congenial, there was dancing after the meal. It was expensive but, we thought, worth it. The next year they doubled the price to something completely stupid and we haven’t bothered with it since.
Ever after we have tended to have a special meal at home, toast the New Year in and crash. For several years we spent a fortune on good steaks only to find them mediocre (I’m resigned finally that Brits just don’t know how to do beef; this is fair, given what passes for beer in the US). Last year we bought venison steak instead and whilst it was nice, we didn’t think it justified the price.
This year we are going to lower the tone altogether and have a smorgasbord of our favourite foods – junk food included, or perhaps especially. Shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, chorizo sausage and Wensleydale cheese with crackers, red wine, potato chips, houmous and veggie sticks are all featured on the menu. I expect we’ll be ill by midnight, but we do normally eat fairly healthy so we might survive anyhow.
I wonder what the next decade will bring? Here’s hoping it has good things in store for us all! See you ‘next year’!