Why New Year's Eve is best enjoyed by being in bed by 10pm

The girl keeps a secret diary. Female hand writes a letter on the lake. Writing our thoughts in a no

Helen's teenage diary bought back memories of a New Year's Eve argument with her dad in 1968 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

New Year’s Eve. I decided to push the boat out for once and went to bed at 10pm instead of the customary 9.30pm. I’ve never been much of a fan of New Year’s Eve. Over the years I’ve ended up drunk, sometimes throwing up and seeing in the coming year by having a row with someone, either the boyfriend of the day or, in the case of 1968, with my father.

Being urged to stay indoors has meant lots of time available to go through yet more cupboard loads of stored boxes. In one I came across a five-year diary with neat writing that my younger self managed, neater than what it became in later years.

In 1968 I was 14 and in the page for New Year’s Eve I wrote: “Got drunk as anything. Dredful (sic) row with dad. I’ll never forget it.” I never did forget because my dad was usually a mild-mannered fellow and maybe some of his (justifiable) anger stayed with me.
As I’ve grown older it’s a real treat to get into bed, and this year gave me a good excuse not to feel that I was missing out on any jolly celebrations, not that I really needed an excuse anyway.

That’s always been the trouble with New Year’s Eve. Everyone else seemed to be having a wild fun time, and yet it so often became a big disappointment to me. We stayed indoors this year, as advised though it came as a bit of a surprise to be woken at midnight by the sound of fireworks. What was there to celebrate? I suppose the passing of what became such a dreadful year and the raising of hopes for a better and safer year to come.

Meanwhile, back to that old box of bygone stuff; I found some old school reports complete with comments on my ballet, singing and dancing as well as the three Rs and so on. As an eight-year-old I was top of the class, excelling in almost every subject (sorry about that) but as the years went by my shining star began to tarnish. I was no longer top of the class. One teacher wrote that I seemed to be disturbed, and most hurtful was the ballet master’s comment at the end of one term that I was “decidedly overweight”. It was the start of my deep depression and a dislike of my body which has been with me ever since.

In that marvellous documentary 7 Up, the film makers followed the lives of a group of children at seven-yearly intervals. They wanted to find out whether the way you were at seven conditioned the way you might become in your adult years.
This programme came to mind as I looked at my geography report all those years ago. You see, I’ve always had difficulty in finding my way round. I get lost driving to places that I’ve been to before; when I come out of shops I tend to forget where I’m going next. This has been a source of irritation all my life. Then I read my geography report from when I was seven: “Helen is a good pupil but needs to work on her map-reading.” So I was rubbish then, just as I’m rubbish now. Of course there is help available. There’s Sat Nav, or Sat Nag as friend calls it, but it’s a cop out.

As well as riffling through the boxes I’ve happily wasted time looking online at videos of funny animals doing daft things. You can be easily hooked; one daft thing can lead to another and there’s an afternoon gone.
A friend has been whiling away his life making videos of himself miming to bygone songs. His name is Adrian Wright, a successful writer and performer and one of the funniest people I know. His knowledge of music hall numbers is quite remarkable and he’s now recorded some for us to share. Stuck for something to cheer the year? Catch Adrian on Facebook. I just would love to know what his school reports had to say.

You may also want to watch:

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter