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George Mitchell: Will your New Year mean party time or peace and quiet?

How will you see in the new year tonight? Image: Shutterstock.
How will you see in the new year tonight? Image: Shutterstock.

Twas the night before Christmas…

Oh sorry, that was last week’s column.

Twas the night before New Year… when all over the land, the people were thinking, go to bed early, or stay up drinking?

It’s Hogmanay! A night to remember! But are we all not a little tired after a long December?

Our tummies have grown from turkey and stuffing, and a walk in the park leaves us huffing and puffing.

The pressure is on to party once more, another night of excess, oh dear what a chore.

The news is depressing, the TV repeats, we question the licence fee, it feels like a cheat. Family and friends, we love them no doubt, but one more night with them may leave us with gout.

Head to a pub, a party or two?

I’m up for a quiet night in… how about you?

A busy New Year’s party is no longer George’s idea of a good time. Image: Shutterstock.

Is the world getting noisier? I think so. Everything seems to be louder these days.
The volumes on TV and various channels or apps such as Netflix or iPlayer have all gone haywire. Sometimes you have to turn it up so high to hear the actors, that when a piece of music then kicks in, it near takes you head off!

Have you noticed that? Surely it can’t just be me.

Been to the cinema lately? The volume of any music or sound effects that accompany said film is another example of my head near exploding.

My friend Stuart is a sound mixer for large blockbuster movies; I asked him once, why do they make it so loud in the cinema? He told me he’d hadn’t really noticed. I reckon he needs a trip to an ear doctor.

Even Classic FM, which should be a sanctuary of calm in our hectic world, is not immune to shattering the quiet. The song ends, a beautiful moving piece, for example Borodin, In the Steppes of Central Asia. I’m almost having a zen moment, but then the presenter speaks and an ad kicks in all at huge volume and I just about jump out of my skin.

Why is everything so noisy these days? Image: Shutterstock.

And while I’m on the subject of noise, why oh why can someone not invent a dentist drill that is silent? I don’t find fillings painful, but the drill goes right through my bones and shakes me to the core.

Even when I’m not in the chair and walking past the dentist, if the window is open and someone is getting a filling, I hear that drill and I want to run a mile. Please, someone, invent a silent drill. It would make for far more relaxed patients in my view.

Even early in the morning in the family home, the peace can get shattered. Millie, our new Beagle puppy, for example, hasn’t quite mastered the fact that I need peace and quiet when I get up.

Coffee, Radio 4, and nothing else. But she is hyper after sleeping all night, and wants to play and run and pee and poop. Hmm…

Anyway, back to New Year! Oh dear, I’d rather not to be honest. It doesn’t fill me with dread, I just don’t want to ‘do it’. And by that I mean celebrate into the wee small hours.

Oh, how things have changed. I used to love it.

Once, I flew out of Aberdeen on December 31 2003, via London, and landed in Moscow mid-afternoon. Staying in a hotel just behind Red Square – that has now been pulled down by the way – I was well placed to enjoy New Year’s Eve, which is a big deal in Russia.

After an afternoon kip, a steaming hot bath and a hearty meal, I headed out. It was bitterly cold, way below zero, but clear skies and crunchy underfoot. The evening passed in a blur, and come midnight I stood with countless thousands and took in the huge firework display that lit up Red Square and Lenin’s Tomb. A marvellous experience.

Hogmanay in Moscow’s Red Square was a real highlight for George in the past. Image: Shutterstock.

Another time I remember, was with friends in Budapest. I was living there at the time and we stood on one of the iconic bridges over the Danube. Minus, cold and frosty, we drank champagne as fireworks again lit up the sky at midnight. Beautiful.

But of course, most of my memories come from my growing up years and experiencing New Year parties at home.

Back in the day, New Year celebrations seemed to go on for days and not just the night itself. There was first footing, then more parties until the third or fourth of January. I don’t think that happens anymore, or does it?

And I don’t think it’s just me getting older, I know plenty of folks older than me that love nothing more than celebrating New Year for all they are worth. But I do get a growing sense among people I speak with that many just feel too shattered come the end of the year.

My partner Lina, who knows I like nothing more than chilling out, a quiet night and off to kip early whatever the time of year it is, can’t quite believe when I tell her that I used to be the life and soul of the party. She looks at me with a Roger Moore raised eyebrow thinking: “You? Parties and late nights?”

Mind you, she can talk, she may well still be in her 30s but come evening, she sits in her jammies, glasses on the edge of her nose and does her knitting. I kid you not, she looks like a Russian grannie. Or babushka as they call them.

A street party – such as this one in Aberdeen – doesn’t appeal to George any more.

These days I’d find New Year’s Eve parties too forced, to0 many people, too noisy. It’s that introvert thing, I guess. And I’m very happy in my own skin with all that, thank you very much.

So, it’s New Year’s Eve. Are you excited? Or content to let it all wash over you?

Whatever you have planned tonight, be it a rowdy party or a quiet night in – enjoy.

As for me, I’ll be out like a light at my usual time tonight, after a glass of red or three. That’s 10pm by the way. Sorry, but I ain’t stayed up for a New Year’s Eve midnight for years. Been there, done it, had great times, but not any more thanks.

Anyway, according to millions of Chinese, it’s not even New Year anyway. They celebrate it sometime in late January, I think.

Personally, I think we’ve both got it wrong. What a silly time to have New Year, in the middle of winter when the days are so short. It’s dark half the time and the weather awful.

Can we not change it all and have a New Year celebration when the first blooms of spring come and the days get longer? It would get my vote.

As for staying up tonight and partying until goodness knows when, then waking up on the first with a head like a pan of broth – no, these days are long gone.

It was fun though…

Or was it?