I am aware that other people celebrate the New Year at a slightly different time, but I don’t hold with that kind of nonsense. The start of September, when the summer holidays start to give off a little rotten stink: this is the beginning of the new year for me and always has been. It comes from having spent most of my life in education, one way or another, I guess. I just keep enrolling at different universities, year after year; it’s for the free wall planners, mainly.
This new year, my new year, is better than that other one in lots of ways. Firstly, there isn’t the need to attend parties where everyone has drunk far too much and is pretending to be jolly in order to stave off the horror of the passing of time and the drawing nearer to the grave. In early September, there is no obligation to kiss anyone at midnight, thank God. Because the New Year Countdown is just an excuse for drunken, slightly sweaty men (or women, possibly, although I have no experience of this) to cop a quick feel.
But it’s worse, of course if no one even bothers to try to molest you. Being on the receiving end of drunken fumbling is bad enough, but the realisation that you aren’t even attractive enough to merit a whisky-fuelled grope – well, that’s enough to sober you up, just in time to mumble your way through Auld Lang Syne. At September New Year, no one kisses anyone at midnight or forces them to sing songs they don’t really know, because everyone is in bed at midnight with a nice cup of herbal tea and an improving book. It’s a school night after all.
The other good thing about September New Year is that the weather is better. Tons better in fact. Traditionally, the journey home from a New Year party involves stumbling across frozen pavements, feet aching and ill-advised lovebites throbbing. In early September, you can tell it’s time to go back to school because suddenly the leaden skies clear, the howling winds drop and the sunshine blazes down. Ah, it must be the start of the school term.
Some things are similar about the September and January New Years. I don’t know about you, but I start September with a sense of optimism about abandoning my old habits and adopting a set of new ones. My house is a list-strewn shrine to our new resolutions right now. We will be organised! We will remember which days are swimming days! We will not build up the kind of library fines that necessitate leaving the county at midnight! Fruit will be eaten and not left to rot and form a slightly malevolent still-life installation in the fruit bowl! These are much better than those joyless January ones, which normally involve stopping all those things that make midwinter bearable – drinking wine, eating Galaxy, flirting with the bus driver, or at least not all three simultaneously. In January, resolutions also often involved pretending you are going to start visiting the gym regularly, which is bad enough at any time of year but is particularly humiliating in January when you have to flash your milk-white mince-pie flab in front of the buff gym bunnies.
The other cheering thing about September New Year is the nice pile of sparkly new things. Shiny new shoes. A lovely new winter coat. And best of all – new stationery! A lovely fresh new notebook to write down all the things you are going to do and, a few pages later, a book of the current odds on how long before you break all your new resolutions and slip back into your sloppy old ways.
The September New Year is also a good time for learning new things. This even infects school children – well some of them – and as a teacher this can make the first few weeks of term quite cheering, or alarming, depending on your point of view. This morning, I found myself flicking idly through the magazine from the local college that popped through the door, yearning for the opportunity to learn something NEW! – Pottery Throwing? Conversational Ancient Greek? Art with Toenail Clippings? – before receiving a slightly stern look from the LongSufferingHusband. Yeah, maybe another night class isn’t so sensible, what with the full time job, the two children, the several time consuming hobbies and the small matter of the Masters Dissertation this year? Well, maybe next year.
And then there’s that whiff of autumn in the air. Ah, autumn. No more daily stubble removal, and the welcome return of the leggings and boots. No sitting in pub gardens shivering, pretending it’s warm because it’s SUMMER; back to the roaring fires and chunky jumpers. Note to the British catering industry – the café culture doesn’t work this close to the Arctic Circle.
And the new TV season! And those big tubs of Quality Street on offer for £5 in Sainsburys to ‘save for Christmas’… hahahaha.
In fact there’s no need to go outside till spring.
Except for the Christmas shopping.
OH GOD. Let’s make a pact to NOT talk about Christmas yet, just for a bit longer? Cheers. And Happy New Year to you all.