THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a liberty-laden New Year
Down the rabbit hole

Reflections on the passing of another year

FireworksI used to like New Year's Eve. I remember a party in the Welsh wilds many moons ago. I thought it had gone well, but the late Mrs P. disagreed. Apparently alcohol had somehow flushed my schoolboy Welsh from my memory's trash can and I spent much of the evening chatting in that ancient tongue to an attractive young lady. This had somehow displeased my better half.

Recalling little of this, I took a while to get over the very notion of an attractive Welsh girl. My family had lived in the Principality for many centuries with only English women in our family tree. Without border raids, we would have died out long since. Nor had anything in my youthful experience in Wales suggested my male ancestors had erred in their judgement. You can navigate around Swansea by signage on places graced by Catherine Zeta-Jones, so extraordinary is the notion of Welsh beauty.

I tried to explain that, though I recalled little of the conversation, my Welsh vocabulary could not possibly have led in the directions she imagined. Much of it would have been derived from the national anthem and the hymn 'Calon Lan'. Once I had complimented the cleanliness of her young heart and stated my undying respect for her old tongue, I would have been at something of a loss; however well-lubricated my larynx.

Apparently, however, the young lady had found me suspiciously amusing. Mrs P. could never imagine a woman laughing at my witticisms without ulterior motive. [Yet I distinctly remember her finding me funny in our younger days. I can only now conclude her own motives were then as questionable as those she later imputed to others.] I explained, convincingly I thought, that the young woman's laughter was more likely to have been brought on by my linguistic errors than any desire to charm me.

So dark was her view of woman-kind she remained unconvinced. So much then for female solidarity. I have long since sadly concluded that many of the nastier aspects of feminist theory arise from women falsely imputing their own dark view of each other to men. We like them far better than they do themselves, if only they knew. Not that it's too hard to compete with what they think we think. 

It has all been downhill from there. During my ambitious middle years, unreasonable expectations of career progress let to a New Year's Eve score card as depressing as that of a current Fulham fan. As my career crested, it became a time to notice the fading of even those glories. Mrs P's insistent desire to celebrate in high style merely led to evenings of expensive misery and well-dressed matrimonial rows.

I have come at last to see Hogmanay as something, like all primitive excess, best left to the Scots. Christmas, I love, but New Year is not for me. Tomorrow will make today its yesterday as usual, regardless of Pope Gregory's bull of 1582. Frankly, it's all bull to me.

A new beginning is available to any of us on any day, without the need for an auspicious date or a preparatory hangover. We can make a change, or be forced by circumstance to make one, on any date - odd or even. Numbers simply don't come into it. Enjoy your parties though, gentle readers. I know I am as contrarian in this as in so much else and no more likely than usual to be right.

A very happy new year to you all. May 2014 bring to you the realisation of every hope that does not infringe on the freedom of your fellow man.


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Tom best wishes for 2014. As you know I am a great admirer of your blog so keep it up.


We can make a change, or be forced by circumstance to make one, on any date - odd or even. Numbers simply don't come into it.

That strikes a chord. It'll be four years in May that I was forced to re-evaluate my life, return tot eh UK and have to completely rebuild my career. So, New Year'as day is all a bit meaningless.

James Strong

Your last two paragraphs are very wise.
Good though your blog is, you might struggle to top them in 2014.And they'll still be wise on 1/1/2015.

Years ago I wished a cliched 'Happy New Year' to someone who replied, 'I'll make sure it's a happy one.'
Even taking into account 'Events, dear boy, events'
I think there was some wisdom in that too.


The New Years Eve jollity has always seemed very forced-we will enjoy it because we are supposed to. Probably as fine an example of succumbing to peer pressure as any psychologist could want.

With respect, your reflections on career progress appear to be at odds with your previous comments about a lecturer who considered success a result of mere luck.

Both luck and ability must surely play a part. Blair was a great actor, but only got the stage because the lead actor had died-and what a show he put on.


Yikes! You make yourself out to have been the party guest from Hell. Still, your recent cruise appears to have been a mellowing experience.

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