We get older every year.
And you don’t change, or I don’t notice you changing.
All my life I’ve been a glass half-full person; upbeat, looking forward to what’s around the corner, never looking back with regret.
I used to love New Year. Our house was the open house, the one with the oldies in one room doing and saying alcohol-induced daft things (“Why d’you have two Christmas trees up?” inquired a particularly wonky-eyed neighbour one year) and the youngsters in another saying and doing equally alcohol-induced daft things. You can imagine. The kitchen became a melting pot of three sets of friends (mine, my brother’s and my sister’s, with a fair amount of crossover) and young-at-heart oldies, keen to hear about the bands we were listening to and eager to discover if we were just as daft as they had been at our age.
Real, actual pipers piped and drummers drummed as they marched up and down our hall. Scott Pyper was the piper. And Neil and Angus, the drumming Bell twins (or maybe one of them was a bagpiper) literally brought the bells in. I always thought that was pretty great.
Strangers arrived and were (mainly) welcomed with open arms. The future Mrs Pan, coming to meet my parents for the first time, remarked that she had been in our house one Hogmanay in years gone by. There must have been hundreds of different people over the door between 1982 and the tail end of the 90s. It was the best of times, offset only by the thumping hangover that would last well into the second week of January.
The past few years have been different. I’m now the young-at-heart oldie in the kitchen, keen to hear about the music the young folk are listening to, safe in the knowledge that, despite that well-known phrase, youth is not wasted on the young. It would appear that they’re all having a great time.
Also, the past couple of New Years has seen my glass half-full upturn to half-empty. My dad’s illness eclipsed all my thoughts at the bells. Would we still have him this time next year? It was the unspoken question, the one you dared not speak aloud for fear of jinxing things. We now know the answer, which is why the bringing of the bells tonight will be particularly reflective. We’re having the quietist New Year in living memory, where at the bells I’ll raise a glass in my dad’s memory and kick hard the arse of 2017 as it slinks out of sight, the shittiest year of my life. What can 2018 bring that could be anything worse?
As the song says, everything flows.
If you stick the glorious Teenage Fanclub on at, oh, I dunno, five past four this afternoon, the bells will be due just as the final fried ‘n frazzled notes of Raymond’s and Norman’s twin axe attack fade away.
Off with you, 2017. I hope we never meet again.
Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows