It’s lovely to be back, although of course being back is also a depressing pain in the arse. I’m not a great New Year person anyway, to be honest. Others rush up to Trafalgar Square, watch wonderful fireworks displays, and feel full of the opportunities of all things New. Not me. For me, New Year is the unavoidable confirmation that Christmas is over for another 12 months, that there’s loads of miserable weather to endure without the sustaining bribe of Christmas to look forward to, and the sure knowledge that I’m getting older, and death is getting closer. 2011 is one more than 2010, and what’s to celebrate in that doleful fact, I’d like to know.
So when it comes to the calendar, I’m very much a glass damn-well near empty kind of person. A feeling that isn’t helped by the sensation that it may be a New Year, but the things happening in it are as old as the hills. The police are investigating a murder. They’ve arrested someone, and allowed his name to be bandied about, and then discovered, it seems, that he’d got nothing to do with it. And it’s the murder of a young woman. Cue 24-hours news in profligate overdrive, where the fact that a car has be moved is sufficiently riveting for us to be shown it live. Gosh, a policeman in a forensic suit. Who’d have thought it? Murder is not that unusual, and most of the time it gets no more than a cursory mention, unless the victim fits one of three categories: an attractive young woman; a young person stabbed by another young person; or a white person chopped, shot, or boiled by a black or Asian person. Then our obsessions with sex, youth violence and race come rushing to the fore, and news vans are encamped all around the scene with satellite dishes transmitting every tit and tattle, every mindless speculation, interminable breathless interviews with neighbours seeking their 15 famous seconds (Minutes? Not in today’s world, my friends) and indiscreet items on suspects that half the time turn out to be innocent, but whose lives are irremediably damaged nonetheless.
Anything new in politics? No chance. Same old regressive tax increases sold as somehow protecting the poor – but only in the sense that the poor have no money and therefore pay less tax than the rich (well, that’s a turn-up) but for whom every 50p has a significance that the rich person’s £20 extra for a golf club does not. A much needed opportunity for Ed Miliband to make some long-delayed impact? Forget it. “I think the Chancellor needs to come out and apologise for misleading the British people.” Pointless, empty rhetoric. The politics of apology, the subliminal nationalism, the utter vacuity, the total lack of alternative, honest proposal.
Thus the New Year finds me as grumpy as you could wish for. Oh, and older, too. But don’t waste any of your sympathy on me. My languor will pass soon enough, as it always does. In the meantime, a bloody happy New Year to you as well. Bah. And humbug.