The government might believe that Covid-19 is taking a wee Christmas break (despite, y’know, multiple scientific advisors telling them otherwise), but they’re convinced the virus will be back on shift for New Year’s Eve.
This means that, while we’re allowed to mix with up to three households between the 23 and 27 December, everyone in Tiers 2 and 3 – essentially 99% of the UK – is banned from heading to the local pub, club, or house party on NYE.
“You must follow the rules on where you can go and who you can meet, including on New Year’s Eve,” states the official government guidance.
“Your Christmas bubble will no longer apply.”
Naturally, the tabloids have seized upon this news as sad tidings, doing their utmost best to stir up some negative emotion in the general public.
“Oh no,” they suggest slyly, all wide-eyed innocence behind their noisy, caps-lock-heavy, rage-stoking ‘NEW YEAR’S EVE PUB TRIPS WITH FRIENDS BANNED FOR MILLIONS OF BRITS’ headlines.
“Your NYE plans are ruined. You won’t be able to see anyone. You’ll be ringing in 2021 from home, alone, with a takeaway on your lap and a bottle of cheap supermarket fizz to hand, probably. You’ll end up watching the fireworks on TV and singing Auld Lang Syne from your sofa. You’ll most likely wear your PJs all night long. How bloody miserable for you.”
And, sure, it probably would be bloody miserable – if that didn’t sound like the NYE celebration of my dreams, that is.
Reader, I have a confession to make: I hate New Year’s Eve.
Now, anyone who knows me well may be shocked by this bold statement. Because, let’s face it, I have all the makings of an NYE fan: I am always the first to get up and sing at a karaoke bar, the one who takes their Halloween plans to the extreme, the first to ask what everyone will be wearing to wherever it is we’re going, and the last on the dancefloor at every wedding.
But all of the things I love about a night out are tainted by the black magic of NYE. Because I hate the endless queues outside Oceana, I hate the overcrowded pubs, I hate the sad buffet tables (two cold sausage rolls and a limp cheese sandwich triangle does not a substantial meal make), I hate having to plan my travel arrangements with all the intensity of an SAS soldier, and I really hate the debt-inducing rounds of shots.
The thing I loathe most of all, though? The fact that, every single year around September, the invitations start pouring in. And it’s never long before friends and family begin demanding which of those invitations you’ll be taking up.
“Oh, I don’t mind if you don’t come,” they’ll say, pleasant words completely at odds with the oddly sharp tone to their voice.
“I just need to know so I can sort out food. Incidentally, do you like limp cheese sandwich triangles?”
It’s a lot of pressure, essentially: pressure to choose between your loved ones, pressure to make plans several eons in advance, and pressure to have fun. And by ‘fun’, of course, I mean the sort of Instagrammable, anecdote-worthy fun that looks great in the movies but never really pans out in real life.
Because… well, because nobody really wants to go around the circle and share their resolutions for the year ahead (especially when they’re busily eyeing up their third glass of wine). Nobody really wants to wake up on 1 January 2021 with a stomach-heaving head-pounder of a hangover and an unexpected NYE-induced black hole in their bank balance. And nobody really wants to wear their glitzy new outfit to the nightclub with sticky floors and hoards of vomit-dribbling dancers pressing in from every side, either.
Or maybe they do. What do I know, eh? As my partner is so fond of saying, horses for courses. So, if your dream NYE is a big night out (or in), then I’m sorry: this must suck for you, and I hope you find a way to make it the celebration you want it to be.
Personally, though, I’m a fan of this new ruling, because it means that I’m no longer doomed to disappoint someone, anyone, potentially even everyone this NYE.
Instead, it’s given me permission to keep my 31 December as cosy as I possibly can. Which means that I’ll be eating good food (a lot of it), streaming all the Christmas films I missed on Netflix, running through the songs on my 2020 playlist, and cracking out a few boardgames. I’ll no doubt be partaking in a Zoom quiz of some kind, too, because there’s been one every Sunday night since the dawn of the first lockdown in my family.
And, as the clock hands creep closer to midnight and this burning dumpster fire of a year ends, too, I’ll raise a glass in front of the TV and do my utmost best to remember the words to Auld Lang Syne. I’ll send messages to the people I love the most. I’ll consider what the year ahead means for me, without the pressure of making up a resolution on the spot.
Best of all, though? Well, I’ll go to bed and wake up feeling refreshed, happy, and with zero need to pour over last night’s bank statement. Unless I wind up spending more on my takeaway than I mean to, of course.
Happy new year!