SORRY to be a party pooper, but I really don’t see the big deal with New Year’s Eve.
If you ask me, it’s a ruddy inconvenience. A classic example of bad planning.
We’ve been eating and drinking ourselves silly for the last week and now feels about the right time to knock it on the head.
At least that’s what my liver keeps telling me, anyway.
Except we can’t, because we’re expected to endure the forced jollity of New Year’s Eve – and I for one am going to need a few stiff drinks to get through it.
I’ve tried, but I just can’t get summon up any enthusiasm for this supposedly important date on the calendar.
I’ve done the pricey organised bashes. I’ve done the parties at people’s houses. I’ve done the traipse into the city centre.
But I’ve discovered that what you do or where you go on New Year’s Eve can’t make up for the fact that it’s just not conducive to having a good time.
My main bugbear is the fact that there is so much pressure to enjoy yourself.
But organised fun of this kind never really floats my boat.
Then there are all those people, the rip-off prices and a shortage of taxis that makes things ripe for an early hours punch-up or three.
In fact, the whole thing is a bit of a ruddy nuisance in my book.
Personally, I blame a bloke called Aloysius Lilius. After all, it was he who apparently came up with the idea for the Gregorian calendar we still use today.
But what he hadn’t considered was the fact that when New Year’s Eve rolls around many of us have had our fill – not to mention that our pockets are feeling considerably lighter (the only part of us that is).
So what to do to make New Year’s Eve tolerable?
Well, the best one I’ve ever had was watching the fireworks on Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia a few years ago. Which I guess is hardly surprising.
But what made that one so special was not that I was in Australia (although that did help), but the fact that it was mercifully different to all the others that have been spent sheltering from the drizzle and trying to squeeze into a packed pub.
New Year is meant to be about renewal, a fresh start. So how do we celebrate it? By doing the same thing we do every year.
My second favourite New Year was probably Millennium Eve, when I decided to shun a non-existent invite to the Queen’s rave-up at the Dome and ignore all the other invites from mates who were doing something really exciting – like going to an all-night disco in Rotherham.
Instead I stayed in with a good book and went to bed at 11.59 precisely.
And it was great. Plus it meant I didn’t have to listen to Prince’s 1999 until my ears bled.
I realise this makes me sound like Leeds’s answer to Victor Meldrew, but I don’t care.
Give me Christmas any day over this rigidly observed artificial ceremony supposedly marking the ending of one period and the beginning of another.
It’s not as if we wake up the next day and it’s suddenly summer, is it?
It’ll still be dark and cold tomorrow, it’s just that we’ll be negotiating it with a gigantic hangover.
If you ask me, things would be far better if New Year’s fell at the end of May.
Anything to break things up a bit and avoid the clash with Christmas.
And I really do love Christmas. The festivities have more of a freeform feel to them.
Yes, there’s Christmas dinner but after that it’s pretty much up to you. Plus the telly’s always better.
I realise that this probably isn’t the majority view.
Maybe everyone else loves New Year’s Eve and can’t wait for tonight’s festivities.
If so, I really do hope you have a wonderful time.
Me, I’ll be taking it easy at home and enjoying an early night.
This is how we’ll beat terrorism
IT’S fair to say 2015 has been an annus horribilis for terrorism.
The atrocities in Paris last month were the tragic lowpoint in a year which saw the so-called Islamic State tighten their stranglehold on large swathes of the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the perception that Muslims somehow aren’t doing enough to condemn these lunatics threatens to further feed distrust and resentment.
Thank God then for the news out of northern Kenya the other day, when militants from terror group Al-Shabaab stormed a bus carrying both Muslims and Christians.
The gunmen ordered the Muslim passengers to split into a separate group so they could deal with the Christians, only for the Muslims to promptly refuse.
Some of them gave even gave their fellow travellers Islamic articles of clothing to wear so they couldn’t be distinguished.
The basic message was – shoot all of us or none at all. Not prepared for this eventuality, the Somali militants eventually gave up.
We saw a similar thing a few weeks ago when a moron on a train in Newcastle started laying into a young Muslim girl just for being Muslim.
Her fellow passengers leapt to her defence and told him where to get off.
Such solidarity and steadfast refusal to bow to the warped ideology of these maniacs offers a welcome ray of light as we enter another challenging year.
Perhaps there’s still hope yet.
One resolution for 2016 I need to keep
I’M not usually a big fan of the New Year’s resolution.
The idea of tomorrow ushering in a whole new way of life all on the back of a simple promise made to ourselves as the clock strikes midnight rings hollow.
Little wonder then that research has shown that only one in 10 people stick to them and the majority last nine days before they’re broken.
But this year I’m going to give it a shot.
It’s probably got a lot to do with hitting 40 but I’ve decided to try and look after myself a bit better.
I’ve scoured the internet and found foods that are good for you that I’ll actually enjoy eating. (Spoiler alert: kale is not on the list).
Part of it’s down to the fact my dad’s going through some health problems and it’s a wake-up call that none of us are bulletproof.
Then there’s the fact that I want to be spend as many fit and healthy years with my kids as I can. Which really should be all the incentive I need.