New Year's Eve - then and now

An image I remember very clearly from my childhood was my dad lamenting the quick passing of years. "Stop the world, I want to get off!" He would exclaim, and I would laugh at how funny and strange it sounded.

Now I kind of know what he means - though I certainly don't want to get off - but slowing down the world a bit might do the trick.

It was six New Year's Eves ago that I introduced the bloke to my friends in Barcelona. Six! It was only the second time I'd seen him since we'd got back together after our fateful re-meeting at the club where we'd originally met.

We were still figuring out what we were to each other. I hoped we would stay in each other's lives, but we were still practically strangers then. Held together by a shared past in London - a thin string that could easily snap at any time.

It was a time before Facebook and Twitter. My Space was limping along there somewhere but no-one was really on it. The distance between people seemed much bigger in those days.

We were so late as we hurried along the deserted streets towards the Director of Barcelona's flat. We got there with about 15 minutes to spare before the dongs of the New Year would signal the start of 2006.

When we arrived the party was in full swing. And it wasn't just any old party - but an Eighties-themed fancy dress party. The bloke had flat out refused to dress up, so I hadn't either - though I had brought my Orville doll along to somehow contribute to the theme.

But everyone else had gone all out. Kung Fu Cath looked like one of the Kids from Fame, the Director was an eerie George Michael, Jim was Superman and Dave was a 'calm down calm down' scouser. You could have forgiven the bloke for being a bit overwhelmed by it all, but he thought they were brilliant.

Got himself a Brugal and coke and lit up a cigar and got down to the serious business of getting to know them all.

By the next day it felt like we were all the best of friends - members of an exclusive club that no-one else could join. We ended up in a bar in Gracia, where Jamie - another new friend who ended up being worth his weight in gold - broke the no playing the piano rule, but somehow got away with it.

And the owner of the bar looked like Salvador Dali, and didn't seem to mind when we told him so.

We remembered this and more five years on - New Year's Eve 2011. Another fancy dress party at the Director's flat - cult film characters. But this time the bloke dressed up - making an excellent Dr Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the Director's Raul Duke.

And that wasn't the only change. A glance around the room at midnight confirmed how much we had all moved on. There was Jim - AKA the Dude from the Big Lebrowski - with his arm around his wife Jane, dressed as the guy from Alien who has the little baby one bursting out of his stomach. And giving the costume extra effect was Jane's baby bump - the new arrival is due in February, and it's the best news ever.

Then there was Dave - Marty McFly from Back to the Future - and his wife Kirsten (Princess Leia) and of course the Director and Science Chick - also fulfilling 30-something male fantasies as the Star Wars princess.

It was mind blowing to think that five years ago these people didn't know the other even existed. While they clinked glasses with their friends and danced the night away they had no idea the person they would spend their lives with was out there somewhere doing the same.

Since then people have left the group - gone back to Britain to rejoin 'the real world' and we've had new additions, like Gav (who had a pillow up his t-shirt to portray Walter from the Big Lebrowski).

We've all moved up notes on the career front - Kung Fu Cath even has an assistant - but nights out are still as fun as they ever were.

Long after doing the grapes (and it's the first time I've ever managed to eat them all - even despite the long black hair of the wig for my The Ring costume getting in the way) the Director gathered the troops to take us out to a warehouse party in Poble Nou.

In the taxi on the way down Kung Fu Cath asked the driver: "Do you know who I am then? I'm a cult film character."
"No I don't recognize you," he said.
"I'm Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction," she told him.
"Oh, so what are you doing in town, promoting a film?"
"No, I'm only dressed as Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction. It's a costume."
"Well I haven't seen it. So is this your first time in Spain? Can I have your autograph?"

By which point she decided it was easier to just go along with it, and autographed his taxi receipt book "Happy New Year, lots of love Uma" Classic.

The warehouse party was full of mud that soon crept up the front of Science Chick's pristine white skirt, which had to be binned afterwards. The drinks - poured into tiny plastic cups - were so strong they were undrinkable. The bathrooms were worse than the 'worst toilet in the world' from Trainspotting and had to be flushed by a man with a hose. But it didn't matter - we were all together.

And as we left, trooping to the metro to go home there was that familiar feeling of returning home from a battle won. And as I looked at our mud-covered group I thought, These are some of the best people in the world right here, and they're my friends. And they always will be.

And that makes me grin like a loon, even now.


  1. Your blog posts always make me well up a little. I know exactly what you mean. I just posted my new year blog account too.
    Happy new year darling - next year is YOUR year!
    So much love xxxxx

  2. Thanks love! Yes I have a good feeling about 2011! xxxx

  3. I remember my dad saying a similar kind of thing. I'm starting to see it more now.

    I loved this post - especially "While they clinked glasses with their friends and danced the night away they had no idea the person they would spend their lives with was out there somewhere doing the same." I really like that thought.

    Happy New Year! (Is it too late to be saying that?)

  4. I feel that way about my friends. I call them new friends but its already been a couple of years.