Happy New Year

Every day is the beginning of a new year, or a new century or new millennium. The date is just an arbitrary convention. Yet we insist on trying to change our lives on January 1st each year. Why? I have already, as I started to type this, broken resolution no 1: do not procrastinate; do not start displacement activities. I have,however, begun to fulfil resolution no 2 – write more. So is there a point to making resolutions? Once a year no, but every day? – probably yes. Every day is a new day, the beginning of the rest of my life and all those other cliches. I am no Bridget Jones, so I am not going to start giving up smoking, or playing the piano more, or going for longer swims, as I don’t do any of these things anyway. Am I going to try and improve my life, my self? Possibly, but I am certainly not going to tell you what my plans are. I am not into public (or private for that matter) humiliation.
So: resolution number one: do not procrastinate.
I should be writing minutes for one of the organisations I write minutes for. I will do it in a minute, I promise. This internal dialogue is what keeps me going. That and generally trying to enjoy myself in whatever way my circumstances will allow. I try to actively enjoy whatever I do.
But it was not always thus.
One new year’s eve, many many years ago, when I was fourteen, I wanted to stay up to see in the ominous year of 1968 . This was a very strange idea to my parents as St Sylvester’s eve was never a thing in my family. Nevertheless they agreed that I should stay up with them. We used to eat early in those day so at about 7 pm we were in the living room, desultorily watching the television. My mother had a streaming cold and was wrapped in a blanket. My stepfather was sprawled on an easy chair with a great big jug of water beside him – the largest receptacle we had in the house, and he had a large thirst. Visiting us was my mother’s closest friend at the time – Edyta Kukuk, a fascinating woman who had won a scholarship to come to England from Krakow in 1939, thus escaping the horrors of the holocaust herself. None of her family had survived the ghetto and she never got over their loss or her guilt. But she came, as she frequently did, to spend the evening with us. She lived just down the road in a tiny flatlet in Chelsea Cloisters , where she hoarded a lifetime of papers, knick-knacks and tinned food. I loved her because she always treated me as an adult, if not exactly an equal. Making up the fifth corner of this gathering was a young man of 21 who was over in London for a few months to earn some money whilst still an architectural student. His grandfather was a tiny little man, known as Wrobelek (little sparrow)in Polish circles (or maybe just to Edyta, who was madly in love with him!) During the war – he survived Siberia and went to Iran in the same transport as my mother’s family – and he must have had extraordinary sex appeal, because apparently my grandmother had also set her cap at him during their journey of exile – I am not sure how successfully. By the time she came to London there was another man in her life, I believe.
Anyway the young man staying with us was his grandson, Andrzej. So there we were, the five of us in the coldest – because largest – room in the flat. The Christmas tree reached to the ceiling, the electric three bar heater just ate up the shillings, the conversation was non existent that evening, and so we waited. And waited. For midnight. What a crashing disappointment! I of course had a crush on the young man, but was too painfully shy to talk to him – he was uncomfortable, I suppose, because he probably could not understand too much of the tv and had nothing to talk to me about. He used to spend a lot of time writing long love letters to his girlfriend – now wife, though I don’t remember if that’s what he did in his despair that evening. I probably found something to read. it was the most excruciating dull evening.
Luckily never repeated.
I didn’t bother with New Year’s Eve again until I went to Spain in 1971 and then quite inadvertently I had the time of my life. Another story. By then I had learned to enjoy myself!

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