New Year’s Eve is a time for looking back and forward; or, in this case, neither.
We were supposed to cross the triangular village Green to N’s house, for nibbles and vodka shots, at about half-six. I’d then go back to the rented cottage to peel potatoes and turnips and heat up two or three haggises (haggi?) in time for a late supper, for somewhere between five and fifteen people. I’d thought ahead, even brought my own masher for the tatties’n’neeps just in case the cottage didn’t have one (it did).
Around eight-thirty, it became evident that this wasn’t a plan any more. The nibbles were running out, so we dashed back over the Green for an extra pork pie and a few more bottles. At this point, the plan swerved into a visit to Kate and John’s house round the corner, where their son was running a tiny disco in his bedroom: only room for about five people to dance, let alone fifteen. So fifteen of us danced. The haggi were receding into the future. I think it might have been around this time that I uttered my first profundity of the evening: “The Best Plan Is Not To Have One.” Or something like that.
I got into a deep musical conversation with John, leading up to the crucial question: “So, what’s your favourite album, Tim?” I was about to explain solemnly that it was Petra Haden’s a capella version of ‘The Who Sell Out’, and why, when he looked at his watch. “Ah. Excuse me.”
I think I heard a distant shout of “Kate! Get your fiddle! Now!”, but I can’t be sure because the next thing I knew I was about four places back in a Pied Piper’s procession across the Green towards our cottage. John was strumming to Kate’s exuberant fiddle-playing, and everyone was doing that side-to-side splay-legged arm-flapping walk-dance that you can only do when intoxication and euphoria exactly coincide and merge into a perfect moment, just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Just as we reached the space in front of the cottage, the church bells started ringing the Year in, riotously, joyously blending with our music (I think there was singing by then), and twelve struck – a momentary reflective pause – before Auld Lang Syne was sung and someone suggested we nip across to the pub for “Just the one.”
The haggi have been frozen, puir wee sonsie beasties, possibly to be regenerated around 25th January.