‘It’s going to be my year, I’m telling you.’
‘You said that last year and you’ve done fuck all.’
‘This year’s different though, man. Trust me.’
New Year’s Eve, the night when optimism is at it’s highest. Billions of people wait to watch a clock strike twelve. Once that clock strikes, all of last year’s woes are gone, this new year will be filled with joy, happiness and fluffy unicorns. Their gym memberships, diet plans and promises of going sober for a month or two or maybe even three are not just ideas or pipe dreams, they’re going to be fulfilled and nothing is going to stop them. Even the miserable bastard who hate everyone has promised himself he’ll make the effort this year, he’s going to say ‘hello’ to at least one person a day.
All the smokers are gathered outside in the cold, all of them are giving up this year. They hate it, it’s no good for them. Until tomorrow morning when they wake up with a hangover, feeling sick, the only respite is from nicotine, but New Year’s Day isn’t really the start of the year is it? The 2nd is, everyone knows that. John looks at his own cigarette and sees the value in giving up but he’d be angry for a week and that’s hard work. It isn’t going to catch up with him yet, not while he’s this young, give it a few more years and then he’ll do it.
‘How is it going to be your year then?’
‘I’m starting a business, you can get involved if you want. We’ll make loads of money.’
‘You’re too cynical, pessimistic. Every successful businessman has failed multiple times.’
‘They’re big words for you, are you sure you know what they mean?’
‘Just because you’ve been to university and think you’re Einstein don’t mean you can look down on me.’
‘Einstein was a physician, I’m a historian.’
‘He was a physicist you fucking idiot! See, you’ve wasted all that money to not know the difference between a physicist and a physician.’
‘I’m half drunk, I know he was a physicist.’
‘No you didn’t. Now you’re going to get all bitter because I’ve corrected you. Cheer up! It’s New Year’s Eve and the coming year will be the big one!’
‘Let’s go back inside.’
People are starting to become weary, the exhilaration of the bells chiming is turning to tiredness, the effects of the alcohol suddenly hitting. The strangers who were chatting all night suddenly realise they don’t know where their friends are, they’re becoming bored of each other’s random theories on all aspects of life. Strangers, alcohol and New Year’s Eve, bringing people together since the birth of Christ. A woman completely out of her mind is dancing away in the middle of the floor, oblivious to all that is going on around her.
A couple of moody looking fellas are prowling around. Scowls on their faces, daring someone to look them in the eyes so they can repeat that familiar refrain ‘what are you looking at?’ Looking for someone to fight. Intentionally bumping into people, then sizing them up, trying to calculate if they can fulfil their need for violence with the unsuspecting person or if they’ll leave it and find another who won’t put up much of a fight. They disappear into the crowds, soon there’ll be bottles flying and glasses smashed.
‘Let’s go. This place is shit.’
Every single year he tells himself he’s not going to go out on New Year’s Eve and every single year he ends up in some dive of a club. The club will have been recommended by someone, guaranteeing the best night out he’s ever had. As soon as he walked in the door of this place he knew it wasn’t going to be the best night of his life. A man vomiting in the middle of dancefloor while the woman he was with laughed at him. The smell of Lynx Africa, the shady looking fucker who was selling crushed up paracetamol and Pro Plus asking if he wanted ‘sorting out.’
‘Where we going to go?’
‘Dunno, just go home. We won’t get in anywhere now anyway.’
‘Let’s get a bottle of vodka and go and sit in the park.’
‘We’re not fourteen.’
‘What’s wrong with you tonight? You’re a right miserable bastard.’
‘I just hate New Year’s Eve.’
‘Everyone is so fucking happy and full of shit. All the things they’re going to do next year and none of them will come to fruition.’
‘So what? If people want to have a bit of hope give it to them. It doesn’t affect you does it? Some fat geezer dreaming of gyms and six packs and all the birds in London who are going to come flocking to him once he’s hench isn’t going to change your life. In a week’s time he’ll have fucked the membership card in the bin and will be eating a large mixed grill from Ahmed’s Super Kebabs. At least for a few days he had a bit of hope. And he’d have had a smile on his face, unlike you.’
‘Let’s go back to mine.’
The man in the shop is pissed off. Drunk people are annoying and there’s never more drunk people than tonight. The shop is also full of teenagers who are inconspicuously stuffing cans of beer and bottles of Smirnoff Ice into their jackets. He’s not going to stop them, they’ll smash the shop up if he does that. He laments even opening for the night. He told his uncle it was a bad idea but his uncle never listens to him, only answering that ‘it’s God’s will.’ It’s God’s will that half the stock gets robbed then.
John hands over the money for the vodka to the increasingly frustrated shopkeeper, he waves him away when he goes to hand over his change. The man looks tormented, at least give him something to smile about when everyone around him is trying to bring his world crashing down. The shopkeeper nods his head, the kids drop a bottle on the floor and it smashes, he reaches under the counter and produces a baseball bat, the shop empties, no one wanting to get in the way of a man who’s just cracked.
They both stand in silence in the lift. John is wondering what he will find at home. It’ll either be quiet, his dad passed out on the armchair and his mum in bed or it could be absolute chaos. They said they were going to have a quiet night in but as is his mother’s way, she could have decided half way through the night she was bored and invited half the neighbours in. The lift stops on the eighteenth floor, the doors seem to take forever to open. He can hear the music, through the frosted glass he can see mutli coloured lights flashing. Where the fuck did they get them from?
‘There’s a rave at your house.’
In the living room his mother is dancing on a table, swinging a feather boa around her head, Boy George and Karma Chameleon is blasting from a stereo. There are people he doesn’t know standing around drinking and laughing. His old man is sat in the arm chair but he’s not asleep, he’s egging his mother on. She gets down from the table and hugs her son, wishing him a happy new year before taking Rob by the hand to continue dancing on the table.
He watches as Rob dances awkwardly with her, he keeps looking back at John, worried that he might overstep the mark or do something stupid. She jumps off the table and finds someone else to continue her little party with, Rob doesn’t have the moves.
‘She thinks you’re a shit dancer.’
‘What? I’ve got the moves, she couldn’t keep up with me.’ Rob does a little jog in front of him, making more of a fool of himself but no one gives a shit, self-consciousness has long gone. What ever happens tonight will be forgotten, not forgotten more not spoken about.
‘You fucking idiot.’
John pours them both a large brandy and they sit down on the sofa and watch the ensuing chaos of people falling over.
‘Happy New Year, mate!’
‘Happy New Year!’ ‘