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2009 was a very boring year. and I'm perfectly happy with that.

2009 was a very boring year. and I'm perfectly happy with that.

In 2000, I was living in a one-bed flat in West London, working for the BBC and dating an American woman.
In 2009, I am living in the same one-bed flat in West London, working for the BBC (in a different job) and dating a (different) American woman.

However, this is progress, since in the intervening decade, there have been more ups, downs and descents into sheer hell than I had ever really expected. So for 2009 to be a stable year where I stayed in the same place, worked in the same place, and had the honour of dating the same woman is pretty darned cool in itself.

But here’s to 2010, and I hope you have a fab 2010 that brings you most of what you wanted. (Because if you suddenly had everything you wanted, wouldn’t life get terribly dull?)

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year in Saigon

Originally uploaded by almost witty

I’m fairly sure that in the past, I’ve had a couple of interesting New Years.

1999: There was Millennium Eve in Edinburgh, where my party and I walked up and down Princess Street watching four Turkish guys try in vain to get kisses off girls, and saw a heavily pregnant woman beg her way past the crowds and guard barriers, only to reveal her ‘baby’ to be a six-pack once the police had moved on.

2000: A couple of friends and I decided to join a river boat party on the Thames. Which sounds like a great idea until you realise that you’re stuck on the boat for four hours. It was moored off Big Ben just in time for the chimes of midnight. This sounds great until at the stroke of midnight, all the revellers standing on Westminster Bridge throw their beer bottles into the river – and of course onto the boat which you are standing on. Cue the sounds of broken glass smashed onto the boat roof while everyone huddles inside for safety.

2004: Possibly the best New Year I ever spent, though, was in 2004 when I stayed in to avoid being confronted about an anti-Cardiff quote from this very blog. Fortunately, Channel 4 came to the rescue with a huge supply of final episodes from various TV series I’d yet to catch up with.

2005: There was also New Years’ Eve 2005 in Saigon, Vietnam, though that was more due to a relation’s wedding. The streets were thronged with party-goers who just assembled in the middle of the square, and then disappeared once the countdown had finished.

2006: Actually went to a proper gor-blimey New Year’s Eve party in a friend’s house in Manchester, where the obligatory redhead Doctor Who loving lesbian that I fancied was desperate for a woman, and as the party got drunker with the charades and other games, ended up miming all sorts of positions with her legs spread wide open. While a friend’s eight-year-old son looked on, frankly astonished. He’ll be in therapy for years.

This year, there definitely seems to be a lack of New Year spirit – or maybe that’s just the circles I move in. During the rush of work-related Christmas parties (ie both of them), in a lull in conversation, I asked the group what they were doing for New Years. The answers were so depressing, maudlin and dismissive that our table promptly broke up and we made our way home. As far as I can tell, nobody I know is actually going out to have a good time. Some colleagues are spending it at their boyfriends’ house, and some people are spending it alone.

Despite there being the now-traditional New Year fireworks across the Thames, my parents and I will be watching it from the warmth of my flat, since it’ll be -2 Celsius out there, and just a bit too cold for my parents.

Although we ought to be grateful for that – my first year in London, we went to Trafalgar Square to join in the celebrations with everyone else, only to find a massive crowd of people in a square with nothing in it. The fountains had been closed off, there were no TV screens and only rudimentary lighting. At some point, someone yelled “Happy New Year!”, and then we all went home. And can someone tell me what’s so fab about watching a silver ball drop from Times Square?

Are you doing anything?

Happy New Year / Gung hei fat choi

Happy New Year / Gung hei fat choi

Miss R and I have somehow managed to achieve the very tricky feat of “celebrating” the New Year in two different countries, both of which aren’t really that bothered with the respective version of the New Year celebrations.

We saw in 1 January 2006 – the Western New Year, if you will – with twenty-odd cousins and friends on the rooftop bar of the Majestic Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam. While they had organised a special “New Year celebration” for non-native-Vietnamese folk (for the outrageous sum of US$35 per person), it gradually became clear that they had no real idea what you were meant to do.

The entertainment consisted of a house band (average age of sixty) playing all sorts of bizarre songs with the singer doing his best to sing songs that were clearly not in his native language (although to be fair his English singing is far better than my Vietnamese singing. Or my English singing, for that matter) and the ultimate came when he launched into the teen-rebellion anthem Born To Be Wild – complete with Black-Panther-style salute.

Accompanying the band were a group of five Vietnamese dancers who performed some kind of dance while the band played mostly Western songs. The silly thing is that when I clambered up and down balconies later to take pictures of Saigon celebrating the Western New Year, I totally failed to notice that my backside was pressed against their changing room, where they were changing costumes.

The masses gathering at the Saigon riverfront on New Years' EveWhile us tourists were up on the rooftop bar gamefully getting into the spirit of the New Year – down below, it seemed the whole of Saigon had all massed on their motorcycles onto the riverside for no apparent reason. There was a seething mass of people – but there were no fireworks, nothing to look at. Not even a clock. The only sign that midnight was upon us was when an LED clock at the hotel suddenly lit up, and started counting down from ten to one. And thus it was 2006, to the tune of the hitherto unknown Abba song Happy New Year – complete with screeching vocal, which I then sang every time I was bored for the next ten days.

Lunar / Asian / Chinese New Year

This weekend saw the beginning of the Year of the Dog. Thus while we were in Asia for the Western New Year, Miss R and I found ourselves with my sisters and their partners “celebrating” the Chinese New Year in … Milton Keynes.

However, since the point of the Chinese New Year is to celebrate and spend time with your loved ones and family, we kinda upheld the tradition. Although in lieu of fireworks, discos and dancing dragons, we instead compared photos from our Vietnam / Cambodia / Hong Kong trip, swapped some gossip, and ended up watching some home videos from our Christmas celebrations circa 1993. Rather depressing – did I really think I was going to pull with long hair, and huge round glasses?

We did, of course, go out for a good Chinese dinner. Some things are just sacrosanct.

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