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Tuesday 31st December 2013


As the self-appointed Scrooge of New Year's Eve - I think the majority of people actually resent the enforced nature of this celebration and it comes much too close to Christmas (he Jewish and the Chinese have their own more sensibly placed new years, let's move ours to the end of June) - I was delighted that my wife was happy to stay in and have a quiet night together. I roasted a chicken (genuinely for the first time in my life) and we drank champagne and played Scrabble and listened to the radio. This was utter perfection.

Six years ago I had sat in the same room, alone, drinking camomile tea, hoping that the woman I had recently met would leave her boyfriend and spend the rest of my life with me. And here she was, trying to persuade me that she should be allowed to play a word that was one letter longer than the space left on the board. And even though it was a brilliant nine letter word, using a two letter word that was already down I refused. Yes, she's made all my dreams come true, but that is no reason to violate the most sacred thing on this planet, the rules of Scrabble. There are 144 squares there to use and if you let anyone trangress that boundary then the whole of civilisation will fall.

As pathetic as it is that I have never roasted a chicken before I felt stupidly proud of my first one. Not that it was difficult. I used one of those chicken bricks that I had bought in a closing down sale at Habitat a few years back and then never used. I'd only recently found the lost instructions. And it makes it the easiest thing in the world to do as you more or less just put the chicken in the brick and then stick it in the oven, but evenso I felt like a real man - and it was perfectly cooked too. Not that that was to do with anything more than me putting the oven at the right temperature and waiting 90 minutes. But even so, I fucking rock.

We went down to watch telly before midnight and chanced across one of those 50 funniest moments of the year compilation shows that I was probably asked to be on, but turned down. This one had a lot of our friends on it and was actually quite funny, though mainly because Danny Dyer, Atomic Kitten and a woman who'd pissed herself on Big Brother were saying such odd things. One of the clips did turn out to be one of the funniest things I had seen all year. I hadn't seen it at the time, but this clip of an anti-nuclear protestor getting into a scuffle at the Labour Party Conference was brilliant. What is particularly enjoyable for me is the way that the protester's own dog gets involved in the fracas (a pathetic tussle that might actually be funnier than my own inadequate fisticuffs in Liverpool in 2007). And rather than attacking the man pulling his owner to the ground, the dog attacks his own master. I have never seen this in my life. Usually dogs are fiercely loyal, but this one, perhaps angry at being press-ganged into the anti-nuclear demo against its will (or possibly in protest to the grammatical error on his sign which makes him look like an idiot) takes this opportunity to unleash his frustrations and bites the man who feeds him in the arse. You don't bite the hand that feeds, but there's no saying about the arse cheeks. The dog knew he had one chance. He could pretend he got confused in the melee. But he wasn't confused. He knew exactly what he was doing.

It was nice to go out of the year on a laugh. I love that fucking opportunistic, disloyal dog.

It is an arbitrary time to look backwards and forwards like a massive Janus, but in the end I just enjoyed being in the present and feeling content, a most unusual state to be in at this time of year. I was also inside, away from the cold and rain and didn't need to pay £50 to get a taxi home, so I was already a winner.

I was sad to read of the passing of John Fortune and Geoffrey Wheeler (the latter of whom I had forgotten existed, but upon seeing his photo felt a wave of nostalgia and warmth), both unlucky enough to go in that hinterland period before the year is over, but after the lists of celebrity deaths have been published. John's agent tweeted me to say he would have chuckled at that. This is the maverick's time to die. I hope I can go between Christmas and before New Year, but not for another forty years maybe.

Make it your only resolution to enjoy being alive. Time passes fast and death is stalking us all. Happy New Year.

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