...AND then there were two. It was New Year’s Eve, I don’t remember the year, but I can narrow it down to belonging in one of my sad decades, which nails it as being somewhere between 1970 and now.
I was lucky not to be on my own, but Charlie the terrapin also had nowhere to go, though he at least had the luxury of living on and around a plastic orange desert island with a palm tree in the middle, thoughtfully placed there by the manufacturers should he not be convinced by the reality of his not so natural habitat.
“There’s just us then,” I said, placing him and his world beside me on the settee and attempting conversation. He never said anything, but when you spoke to him he would at least stick his neck out and stare at you, which was way better than the reaction I got from most people.
My brother had gone out. My mum and dad had gone out. The difficulty was two-fold — I didn’t have anyone to go out with and no-one would stay in with me.
I don’t remember the rest of the night, but it wouldn’t be the worst new year’s eve...
Sometime around 1987 there was fancy dress at the local pub and a bloke tried to smash my head against the coat stand (this was back in the day when you could hang your coat and have a 20 per cent chance it would still be there come the end of the night).
There was also the year the ceiling caved in at a cottage in the north east, but that turned out all right in the end.
The year my dad died (December 29, 2003) wasn’t great either. I was training for the London Marathon and risked an early evening December 31 run, managing to pull a calf muscle about four miles from home, plenty of hobble time to think about everything that had happened and worry about whether I would get to complete the race as I had promised him.
None of these compare to the combined horror of all the others inbetween though where, whether or not you ended up in a pub or club, or at a party, you watched Jools Holland and his bloody Hootenanny, an annual celebration of smugness in which the rich and famous gather one sunny summer’s night to listen to some execrable music and tell the blundering presenter about how wonderful their year has been, before he adds his piano to their woeful cliche-ridden tune.
A desperate flick round the other channels reveals some hackneyed old films, the usual cheap to repeat comedies and someone like Craig David belting out a greatest hits set (well, that shouldn’t take long) somewhere near the Thames before hundreds of thousands of pounds goes up in smoke as the capital dwellers whoop and cheer for the cameras filming their night for the rest of the country to watch and ponder: “I wonder how much this cost?”
It doesn’t matter though, none of it does, for tomorrow will be a different year, a new start and the world will be a better place. Won’t it?