This week Bernard Darnton raises his last unbroken champagne glass to welcome in the New Year.
2010’s been a bit of a crap year so it’s time for a new one.
Things for me started off fine having the New Year at my parents’ place in England. It was the first time our whole family had been in the same room for five years and the first time that my parents had been in the same room as all their grandchildren ever.
Outside, Britain was in the grip of the worst winter in 30 years. (Now the second worst winter in 30 years.) We escaped shortly before Heathrow closed. The warmth of Singapore was a welcome relief except for the small matter of a toddler who immediately fell sick, couldn’t stand the heat, and didn’t understand time zones. As I have mentioned elsewhere, anyone considering travelling with a toddler should be compulsorily assessed and treated under the Mental Health Act.
From the literal blizzard of an English January I landed back into a metaphorical blizzard of work. Those who work in the software industry will know what a “death march” project is. Those who know about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II will know what an actual “death march” is. A death march in the software business is a project that’s a bit like the endless overworking of prisoners during the war except without the apology from the Japanese government afterwards.
Eventually I thought “bugger this for a game of soldiers” and left. I was in the middle of sorting out my new job when the house moved four metres closer to Darfield and the contents of my bookshelves and liquor cabinet moved two metres closer to the ground.
Fortunately my only injury from the Canterbury earthquake was a slap to the head as I realised we’d abandoned the water bottles, gas cylinder and aging tins of peaches in Wellington when we shifted down last year. It was comforting to turn on my hand-cranked radio that morning and discover that John Key was immediately flying down to show solidarity with the people of Christchurch. I assume he was crapping in a plastic bag like the rest of us.
As if the most expensive natural disaster in New Zealand history wasn’t enough, the Pike River coal mine was rocked a few weeks later by New Zealand’s worst accident since Erebus.
The year will also be remembered by friends who lost parents or, worse, children. Of course, things like this happen every year - and there were also a year’s worth of births and weddings - but some years are remembered for their highlights and some for their lowlights. 2010 was the year of the Canterbury earthquake and Pike River.
With only a few days of 2010 left, it’s time to yell out a hearty “Good Riddance,” raise the last unbroken champagne glass, and cheer in 2011 with gusto. New Year is my favourite holiday. I have no interest in deities, royalty, or trade unions so all but two of our public holidays mean nothing to me.
Anzac Day is a day for solemn reflection on the past—a day to remember not only that our freedoms were bought at great expense but also to consider, with lottery-winner’s disbelief, that someone else picked up the tab.
New Year is a day to look forward to the future—a day to seize and to say, no matter what happened last year, that this year’s pages have not yet been written. And to resolve to write those pages.
Last year’s mistakes and disasters belong to last year. They can be learned from. Last year’s successes belong to last year, too, and they can be built on. Above all, New Year is a reminder that today can be better than yesterday and that each of us has the ability to make it so. What better reason to celebrate?
* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column at NOT PC every week between glasses * *
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