New Year 2020/21 (Devon) and 1986/87 (Trinidad)
From my diary, Thursday, 31st December 2020 @ 10:12 – and 34 years ago today
Out of bed at 9:30 and a fittingly late start to the final day of the year, and hopefully a fittingly late end to the day as well. I hope to be up until at least 1am!
If the last couple of days have been frosty, this morning we have seen heavy frost, with crispy snow-like clumps thickly coating every branch of every tree and shrub. My unkempt and uncut lawn actually looks good for a change. The pond is frozen over but hopefully the fish are okay.
Indoors it is uncharacteristically warm. The heating has been on all through the night maintaining a temperature fluctuating between 18 and 20 degrees. 20 is a bit warm for me but my heating system, and especially the controls – such as they are – are not up to the job of keeping me at a comfortable and energy efficient 18.
The heavy frost on the roof and on trees is crying large droplets of crystal water onto the ground below, saddened at its loss. Like energy it is not disappearing but transforming into something different. Perhaps not so sad after all. I do not think I have ever really noticed before just how large water droplets can be when they escape from frost or snow-laden trees and roofs. Some of them look as big as my eye.
It is 10:30 now and the bins have just been emptied, so no doubt the neighbourhood will be out on the footpaths to pick in their bins; an opportunity to taste and feel the cold clean air and perhaps to see or even speak to someone. A covid era luxury: picking bins off an icy street becomes and opportunity to see other people. Life exists elsewhere after all. Just the sight of someone else and perhaps a brief snippet of conversation brings warmth to the icy scene.
As this year draws to an end I would like to think that, now that we have a heightened sense of how important other people are to us – even strangers – we will want to nurture their friendship and acquaintance. I hope that, if this is the case, people know that if they are to achieve this they need to work hard to replace the language of suspicion, prejudice and hate with thoughtfulness, kindness and empathy. I include myself in that.
Wishful thinking? Probably. But isn’t that what seeing in a New Year is all about?
34 Years Ago
My diary from 31st December 1986:
All-night party at Mike’s in Valsayne. Chimes of Big Ben on the radio at midnight! Mark promptly fell off the wall we were sitting on – out like a light on the stroke of midnight!
My diary entries were brief in those days, especially after quite a few beers! I was in the Valsayne district of Port-of-Spain in Trinidad, seeing in the New Year at the home of a friend we had met only a few days earlier on a trip to Manzanilla beach.
The evening temperature was 24 degrees Celsius so unlike the folks back home I was in shorts and t-shirt. Although we were thousands of miles away we were treated to the midnight chimes of Big Ben, ringing out from radios all over Trinidad!
My old friend saw in the new year but only just. One minute we were sat on a verandah wall chatting away and the next he disappeared. Within seconds I realised he had instantaneously fallen asleep, fallen off the wall and found a shrubbery for a bed. He was not out for long and, I am pleased to say, uninjured. It seemed comical at the time and is one of those stories you remember for the rest of your life.