New Year Low Jinks

I look forward to the new year, but I’m not a fan of New Year, if you get my gist. I knew a bloke who used to say ‘I hate New Year’s Eve, you always have to kiss some talcum powdery person you don’t know’. And sure enough, on the one occasion I was persuaded to spend the season away with his family in some dreary hotel in the middle of nowhere, after a lukewarm supper of last week’s turkey in a swirly carpeted lounge resplendent with last year’s paper chains, the chimes rang out and there was no sign of my mate. And I was being attacked from all sides by other people’s puckered-up grans.

For me, New Year’s Eve is always a bit of an anti-climax. Even New Year 2000 was a bit of a let-down. The Natural Theatre Company was booked for 364 days at the Dome. But the organisers couldn’t afford the astronomical fee we quoted for Millennium Night. So we ended up welcoming the new century in Hamelin of all places. Yes, Pied Piper Central!

True, we were paid well, but boy, did they make us work hard. First off, an early evening performance of our classical music spoof Scarlatti’s Revenge, which appropriately was all about the Dome, a subject of mockery even in the far reaches of Lower Saxony. The audience consisted mainly of people too dull to stay up until midnight so it was a bit of an effort when it came to the participation bits.

This was followed by the biggest buffet in Christendom, to which we were invited but didn’t dare indulge in as we had to deliver a second performance timed to end at exactly midnight. The folks were a bit livelier for this show, but to our surprise when we leapt off the stage on cue, they didn’t exactly go bonkers. More like a polite shaking of hands all round and then off to demolish the remains of the buffet. But at least no powdery kissing.

And then, bizarrely, I was required to change into my Lady Margaret character and deliver a recital of topical (for UK audiences) songs gleaned from my BBC Radio 4 series to a crowd of somnolent citizens of Saxony so full of bratwurst and smoked salmon that only a blast of  Black Sabbath could have gleaned any reaction.

Finally, we retired to my hotel room, where we sipped tooth mugs of warm bubbly liberated from the buffet by a fellow performer’s mum who had, perhaps ill-advisedly, flown over for the show.

See what I mean about anti-climax? Happy New Year everyone!

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