I have never been partial to New Year's Eve, as I dislike hugging people and hate situations where one feels pressured to look happy and have a good time. For the same reason I also try to avoid birthdays, gang-bangs, and Irish funerals.
..The sanest New Year's I ever spent was two years ago, when my best friend Donald and I split a bottle of wine and played Jenga and a sort of mechanical fishing game with magnetic rods. At twelve o'clock we went outside to look at the fireworks and shook hands briskly. No nonsense, no drunken emotion, and we were in bed with cocoa by half past twelve. We vowed then and there to do the same for the Millennium, except maybe at Stonehenge.
..Unfortunately, in the interim Donald has become affianced to a New Age lunatic, and he will be spending the Millennium several thousand feet above Stonehenge, performing a naked parachute jump with his intended and a white witch who will be performing a pagan wedding ritual in mid-air. As midnight approaches Donald will be required to penetrate his beloved whilst plummeting like a stone; the plan is that at the twelfth stroke he will bring her to orgasm, conceive their child, and pull the ripcords, all at the same time. As Donald has poor timing, a complete lack of ejaculatory control, and a hilarious history of handles breaking off at his touch, a unique combination of death and embarrassment seems likely to result.
..All over Britain and the world people will be making similarly strenuous efforts to have the most memorable night ever. Those of us who spend it in front of the TV or sharing a few custard creams with friends will be made to feel particularly lame, but anyone who isn't dancing naked round a national monument screaming with unbearable ecstasy will feel somewhat feeble.
..The most horrendous thing, though, will be the false optimism and illusory sense of human brotherhood that will briefly flower, and the emetic platitudes and lies that will flood the aether. Faced with the prospect of the Millennium speeches that such inspiring figures as Blair, Clinton, Yeltsin and the Pope will be giving, one turns with equanimity to newspaper reports that there is a slight possibility a new particle accelerator due to come online shortly before may cause a chain reaction which will destroy the world completely.
..I see no reason for celebration. We are on the brink of a new dark age. The next thousand years will be full of horror, degradation, and enslavement, and during all of that time I will probably not have sex once.
..We are sleepwalking into a nightmare future, a world where mankind will serve the systems we created rather than the other way around, a world ruled by multinational conglomerates and financial institutions where only the super-rich will be free and the rest of us will be pawns in an economic game, corporate slaves to be bought and sold at the lowest possible price, powerless to say no as peoples are exploited and the earth is poisoned in the name of a merciless abstraction called the market.
..Every day life becomes a little more stressful and a little less spacious; every day some little pleasure that used to be free suddenly has a price tag affixed to it; every day we allow it to be done to us. Soon life for the majority of people will be what it was in Victorian times: a vast ratting pit, where strength rules, the weak are finished off, and we are forced to eat each other or be eaten.
..Our leaders are dreadful. They are in the process of creating a very horrible world and a country I no longer recognize and don't want to live in. Our prime minister sells arms to Indonesia, allows Serbian TV technicians to be bombed, and talks blithely of making Britain more like America. EEC directives drive small family shopkeepers out of business and give multinationals even more power, tearing the hearts from our cities and villages. Small farms are faced with a choice between extinction or merging into huge agribusinesses, destroying our countryside and churning out food which is bland at best, poisonous at worst. Foxhunting is to be banned, despite the wishes of rural communities and those of us with a fetish for jodhpur-clad upper class girls brandishing riding crops. Soon we will no longer control our own currency.
..We are no longer a nation but a pack of squabbling self-interests. Everywhere the cry is, take their perks but leave mine alone. Urbanites don't care what happens to rural villagers; the rural villagers don't care what happens to industrial workers or single mothers. No-one blinks when teachers and public servants are routinely made scapegoats for society's failures. As that poem about the Nazis had it: 'When they came for the Trade Union leaders, I didn't protest; when they came for the Jews, I didn't protest; when they came for me, there was no-one left to protest.'
..Is it just some Ealing Britain fantasy bullshit to believe there once was a time when we all looked out for one another?
..Not long ago on telly I saw something about the 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign of 1969. Started by four secretaries, the idea was that everyone would work an extra hour a week unpaid for the good of the country. I found it heartbreaking. Can you imagine anyone starting a campaign of the sort today? They would be laughed at, and rightly so. Work for free? What for? For who? When there's no such thing as society, as Blair's heroine Mrs. Thatcher pointed out, or country? Centuries of patriotism and community spirit have been pissed away in a generation.
..Lord knows the nation and the state, r.i.p., were flawed, but they were of us and for us in a way that Coca-Cola, Sony, or Sainsbury's won't be when they are your king and country.
..I dream of a Boadicea, an Orwell, a Canute to oppose what is happening, but they will not come, and if they did they would not be followed. We are all too busy trying to get by and gather up what happiness falls to us to fight a crusade. Night will fall, England will be dismantled, and Tony Blair's diabolical grin will hang over us all as he and his corporate paymasters are victorious forever.
..Meanwhile, this New Year's Eve, I shall follow the example of that noble Roman, Petronius Arbiter. I will set my affairs in order, get into a hot bath, and have a long, slow wank. (Only kidding Mum.)