It was January the first; time for New Year’s resolutions; time to turn over a new leaf; time to do something positive once again.
Mrs. Maureen McIntosh was no exception. She was a widow. Two years ago she had a huge disagreement with Mr. Stephen Donaldson who lived at the far end of the street. The disagreement was over whether Mr. Donaldson had the right to park his car on the curb side. It wasn’t a wide street and an argument ensued as to whether it was advisable both aesthetically and practically.
Mrs. McIntosh decided this New Year’s Day to bake a lovely chocolate cake and take it to Mr. Donaldson’s house. She would say something like, “This is to make amends for any rudeness I might have caused. Perhaps we could start again; after all we both live on the same street and life is better if we get on.”
Mr. Donaldson was delighted. He shook Mrs. McIntosh’s hand and said it was a brilliant idea.
After Mrs. McIntosh had left he had a brilliant idea himself. He would take the cake next door to the Partridge family of six and wish them a Happy New Year! They were always kind to him and this cake was heaven-sent. He would tell them he had baked it himself.
Unfortunately all six of the Partridge family succumbed to the poison.
Owen had this thing about calendars. It would bring bad luck to hang a calendar on a wall before New Year’s Day. It was equally bad luck to turn a month over before midnight. The prior-to-New-Year would bring bad luck all year; the prior-to-the-first-of-the-month would bring bad luck all month.
Leila, the wife of Owen, had no such hang-ups. She was super-organized. Sometimes she might even turn the calendar over on the 28th or 29th even if it wasn’t February. It became a full-time job for Owen to keep watch.
This was more than a game; it was an epic challenge. Owen was serious about it; Leila though it was nonsense. If Owen hadn’t shown such passion for something so ridiculous then she would never bothered even to look at a calendar. Her stubbornness had grown however, and now she would secretly creep out of bed around 30 minutes to midnight and turn the calendar month over. She would hardly have dozed off before Owen was out of bed and returning the calendar month back to its rightful last 25 minutes.
Of course in the morning they were both tired and grumpy, which Owen attributed to bad luck and Leila attributed to stupidity.
New Year was coming up and Owen conceived an idea. Each year they would order a tailor-made calendar with pictures they had selected themselves. For example, January had a photograph of the long-deceased pet hamster Leila had as a child. Owen secretly had an extra calendar made with twelve Decembers and twelve identical photos. He secretly hung it on the wall before retiring.
Around 11.30 there was a quiet commotion going on. Owen had stayed awake. Leila had crept out of bed. Leila returned and said to Owen, “I suppose you think that’s funny.” Owen sniggered. He had won!
The next morning, to his dismay, there hung January with the hamster photograph. In fact every month of the year was January with the hamster photograph. It was going to be a bad-luck year.
Royden couldn’t wait for the most horrible year in his life to finish.
“Simply everything that could go wrong has gone wrong this year,” said Royden. “The car was written off. I lost my job. The pandemic sent us into lockdown. The pet budgerigar escaped. Great-aunt Constantia died and left her substantial savings not to us but to the Pamper a Hamster Society.”
“Never mind, Dear,” said Crystal his wife. “A new year is about to begin. We can make a new beginning.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Royden.”Things couldn’t get worse. I’ll tidy the backyard for a hope-filled New Year’s Eve celebration!”
New Year’s Eve arrived! They began to celebrate. Royden got hopelessly inebriated and retired early to bed.
Merry was called Merry because she was born on Christmas Day. Clearly her parents didn’t realize that the proper spelling of Mary had also some connection with Christmas. Merry spent her entire life, as a punishment for her parents’ lack of knowledge, saying, “No! That’s not how you spell it!”
Just over two years later, when her little brother was born, it was New Year’s Day, so he was named “Happy”. It was a providential name because when he grew up and began a career in looting he shot a couple of policemen and was known within close circles as “Trigger Happy”.
There was a third child in the family. He was called Roger; short for Roger Mortis. The parents thought it a huge joke because he was born on the very day that Grandma died. Spelling was not the parents’ greatest strength so “Rigor” was registered as “Roger”. Otherwise if he had been born on an ordinary day of the year they had in mind to call the baby Plain Jane if a girl, and Joe Blogs if a boy. And then Grandma stepped up to the plate. Roger had escaped from having a life lumbered with silliness.
Honestly, a number of people were relieved that the parents didn’t create further children. “I’m sure any uncreated children would be more than grateful that they never came into this world,” declared a neighbour, Ms. Stacey Meldrum. Stacey herself has a host of kids. I can only remember the names of three of them; Tabernacle, Vernacular, and Genuflection. After these three Stacey developed an interest in organic chemistry.
You cavort around wearing your woman’s
leather rhinestone-rivet-chain quartz-bracelet-wristwatch watch
and singing Auld Lang Syne like you mean it
like there’s nobody in the world you forgot
like friends who love everybody in a great saturnalia of giving a
tu-whit tu-whoo and your original NIKE air max women’s running shoes
(worth five hundred and forty dollars fifty-eight)
that you can’t walk in cos of those tight, ripped, distressed, slim jeans, and
the knitted cat-ears faux fox fur vegan fibres beanie.
You can take that cup o’ kindness and
shove it up ya up ya up ya
tu-whit tu-whoo along with the I’m-currently-reading tome on
the life of Nefertiti which I recall you were speed-reading two years ago.
We too have run around the slopes
and picked the daisies fine
for auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne.
But you forgot, an old acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind
those days of auld lang syne
our days of auld lang syne, my dear,
our twenty-four years of auld lang syne.
I’ll be home if you want me, with the kids, though I don’t like my chances.
Years ago, when he was just a teen, Vivian thought that 67 was a reasonably old age. He was born on the 1st of January 1950. That meant that the final digit of his age was the same as the year’s final digit; 1959 he was 9, 1969 he was 19, and so on. The year was 2017, and Vivian was 67.
Now that he’d reached the age of 67, Vivian didn’t think that was old at all. He’d always presumed, for no reason, that he’d die aged 67. And now it was a quarter to midnight on the last day of 2017.
What a relief it will be when midnight comes, thought Vivian. It was now ten minutes to midnight.
Vivian was feeling stressed. He tried not to look at the clock. He played a computer game to takes his mind off things. He had sweaty palms.
It was now five minutes to midnight. He turned the television on to watch… anything.