‘A barrage of competing horrors’: how to survive New Year’s Eve

Parties! Fireworks! Endless bonhomie! If ever there’s a night when you’re expected to have unrelenting fun, tonight is it. But what if the prospect fills you with dread? Here are your four options

New Year’s Eve is such a chore, isn’t it? Nobody enjoys it. Nobody has ever enjoyed it. In the entire duration of recorded human history, not a single person has ever approached New Year’s Eve with anything other than a grim sense of clench-jawed, rolled-sleeves “let’s get this over with” resignation.

It’s all that mandatory fun, isn’t it? It’s the expectation that you absolutely must have the most wonderful time at all costs, even though it’s cold and you’re tired and there’s no feasible way that you’re going to fit into your best clothes because you’re still massively distended from Christmas dinner. New Year’s Eve is awful.

But, look, you’re not going to listen to me. You’re still going to try to have a special New Year’s Eve, even though you’re guaranteed to spend at least some of the evening crying and shoeless and wondering why you even bothered in the first place. So, in one last grand display of altruism, let me run through your four basic New Year’s Eve options for you.


Oh, you poor sweet idiot. To go out on New Year’s Eve is to subject yourself to a dreadful barrage of competing horrors. First, everyone will share your manic, Nora from A Doll’s House desperation to prove that you are having the best time ever, even though this level of self-created hysteria cannot be sustained for a whole evening and will definitely end in either tears or bloodshed. Second, if you’re with a big group of people, you are doomed to spend the evening trudging around town making a series of godawful compromises that please nobody. But worst of all, it’s New Year’s Eve, which means everywhere you go will have jacked up their prices beyond belief, as if they’re florists and Princess Diana has just died.

Here’s my favourite, possibly apocryphal, New Year’s Eve anecdote: a friend of mine once made the mistake of seeing in the new year in a pub in Soho. Late in the evening, a countdown started behind the bar. When it got to zero, everyone hugged and cheered and sang Auld Lang Syne and stumbled out into the street to discover that nobody else was celebrating. They checked their watches and realised that it was still 10 to 12. The barman had started the countdown early because he was annoyed and wanted to get shot of everyone. This man is a hero. If you make a resolution this year, it should be to be more like him in 2016.


I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking about venturing out and watching the big London Eye firework display first-hand, aren’t you? Well, don’t. Firstly, all the tickets have sold out. Much more importantly, you don’t deserve to do that to yourself. Imagine having your ribs crushed by the very worst people who ever lived. That’s what it’ll be like. Imagine being trapped in a rush-hour tube carriage, if tube carriages had the capacity to whoop. That’s what it’ll be like. Imagine being kettled, out of choice, because you think it looks fun. That’s exactly what it’ll be like. The very best thing that could possibly happen to you during the London Eye firework display is bloody Myleene Klass or someone coming over and barking a series of obliviously hamfisted almost-questions at the side of your head as part of BBC1’s perennially hapless outside broadcast – and that’s not something you’d wish on your worst enemy.

And, besides, have you ever seen a firework display? Really? Have you? All the way through? Without dying of boredom? Of course you haven’t. Individual fireworks are great, but a full-length firework display is legitimately hellish. It’s just the same thing over and over again, stretched out until you start to see through time. You may as well go and watch a screensaver for 15 minutes, albeit one so cripplingly expensive that your local council will have to stop feeding old people for six months to pay for it. If you go and watch the fireworks, you’ll end up bored and cold and plagued by backache. This is my promise.


Everyone loves a dinner party, don’t they? Especially a dinner party where nobody can face the sight of food because they have just spent a week mainlining Quality Street and prawn rings like a weird bunch of drug mules, and where nobody is allowed to leave until two hours after they would normally go home. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Which bit sounds the funnest? The bit where it gets to half past 10 and you realise that you have run out of things to do? The bit where someone suggests a board game, which gets opened and quickly abandoned because the instructions are so completely impenetrable? The bit where you give up and turn the television on, and see in a heart-stopping moment of panic that BBC1 is literally spending the last half-hour of 2015 broadcasting a live Bryan Adams concert, even though nobody on Earth has wasted so much as a single thought about Bryan Adams for two full decades, and you all sit there watching it anyway, watching Bryan Poxy Adams sing the Robin Hood song over and over again on New Year’s Eve, wondering if this is how you wanted your life to turn out and if this is how it’s going to be for ever? Or the bit where the fireworks come on afterwards and you notice that the only thing worse than seeing a full-length firework display in person is watching a full-length firework display on television? What about the bit where you make plans to do the same thing next New Year’s Eve, too? Is that the funnest bit?


This seems like the best thing to do altogether, doesn’t it? Staying inside, by yourself, reading a book and then going to bed at 11pm like a civilised person. In fact, why not go one step further and refuse to acknowledge the new year at all? After all, years are simply a man-made construct invented to punctuate the blinding monotony of life on Earth. You can see through their game, can’t you? Oh yes. You’re not going to play along with all those other sheeple. Fun is for idiots. Other people are for the weak. Never stop being you, weird psycho–pathically lonely future serial killer. Never stop being you.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Heritage, for The Guardian on Wednesday 30th December 2015 18.20 Europe/London

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