Bugger the cocoa – Happy New Year!

The decorations have gone limp.

So have I. It was bound to happen. Like them, I have been jolly for too long. Like them, I am no longer twinkling in the glow of the fairy lights on the Christmas tree. I’m even wearing the party hat out of cracker. It worked on Christmas Day. Why not now?

There was a time when I could keep the pace going from Christmas Eve until about 4am on the morning of January 1, at which point I would fall into a catatonic state until February. Now the best I can manage is the day after Boxing Day.

Another reminder — like hairy ears and feet that are harder to reach — that time is passing.

We used to ensure we still had a couple of bottles of champagne ready for the stroke of twelve; but this morning I found myself checking that the cocoa would last. What’s happening to me!

Don’t tell me. I already know the answer. The fact is – I’m not ready. I’m enjoying 2005. It’s been very good to me. Lots of wishes have come true. I’m still alive, I’m still healthy (despite the best efforts just before Christmas of a bad dose of flu that tried to kill me) and I’m still married. And I’m still enjoying it. The bonus is that I think my wife is, too.

Why risk it all on a new year! You can’t trust them. The next time my wife finds my underwear dropped at random on the bathroom floor she won’t reflect fondly on my funny little ways.

She’ll think: “Oh my God; it’s a new year and everything’s falling to pieces!”

Which is absurd, because the new year is an entirely artificial, man-made device.

Do you know what they did, in 1752, when they decided they didn’t like the old Julian Calendar?

They just left a few days out. No ceremony, no intricate mathematical process. They just said: “Today is September 2, tomorrow will be September 14.”

If your birthday was anywhere in between you were robbed of a whole year.

So why do we care so much about the new year? The Chinese don’t. Not the same one, anyway. They celebrate New Year on January 29, and have been for a lot longer than us (and incidentally in the Chinese calendar 2006 is the year of the dog, so no wonder I’m suspicious).

And Jews won’t celebrate New Year until September 22.

If we really wanted to mark the beginning of something new, we’d be choosing December 21, when the summer solstice arrives. That is, the sun comes as far south as it’s going to and starts heading back up north, which means our short evenings of daylight are going to get even shorter – and why would I want to celebrate that? I suppose it does get cooler too. Marginally.

You see – I am turning into a malcontent! I just want it to be 2005 forever! Or better still, 1965 forever!

It’s not going to happen. As inexorably as hairs in your ears, 2006 is on its way.

I told my wife. She gave me a hug. She said it might not be so bad. She said it might even be better.

She might be right.

You need reminding of that when after you’ve hit 60. There’s no law that says things have to get worse. Well, not yet.

So bugger the cocoa. I’ve bunged to champagne in the fridge anyway. It’ll hurt like hell later, but that won’t be till next year.

I’m looking forward to it.

Happy New Year!