Even Chaplin came in after midnight. I went to look for him, wanting to bring in the New Year with my flatmate.
I took my warm cava with me to the front door. The street was silent, except for fireworks nearby. I spotted Chaplin sitting on a wall with the ginger tom and I felt uneasy, as if plans were being made for 2012 and they didn’t include me.
Regular readers will know that Chaplin moved in with me having left a neighbour. I don’t know why, you would have to ask him, but I assume because he knew he would be escaping toddlers and get to live the bachelor life again.
Now I watched as he huddled up with the cat that lives with an affluent Polish family who have done up their home, virtually rebuilt it, and both seem to have regular work. I felt like screaming, “They lock him out all day, you know! They didn’t fit a cat flap when they put in those posh new windows.” I didn’t because even on an empty street, a street where everyone had gone to a party but me, I knew this would look insane.
I drank my cava, picked Bombay Mix from my teeth, and listened to the fireworks. I think I heard distant cheering and someone enjoying a snog. I’d been forced to endure an evening with Alan Carr.
The terraced houses stood empty, but with fairylights dangerously twinkling within, and no one had stayed home to celebrate in my block of flats: Toothless Dave went out hours ago and the drug-dealing prostitute had been in and out, as it were, all over Christmas. [For fact checkers: the specifics of only one of these descriptions can be called “truth”.]
As the news keeps reminding us it was unseasonably warm so I remained outside, leaning against the wall drinking the cava that I should’ve shared with friends, irritated by the light from the telly flashing in the living room, where Jools Holland – a man no one really wants to spend their New Year’s Eve with – was mute.
I listened instead for break-ins thinking I might as well do a good deed while stuck in on my own. Even the burglars were at parties.
I had made an effort: I didn’t drink the cava from a mug, I did put the Bombay Mix in a bowl, and I put some nibbles – venison pâté, crackers, baklava – on plates: it all looked pretty in the orange glow of the halogen heater. I had snuggled up to watch something called a Hootenanny but I couldn’t stop thinking about what others were doing and why Chaplin hadn’t come in for telly-watching cuddles.
I then thought of previous New Year’s Eve celebrations when I had work and cash and enough money to travel: as a child on the balcony of our flat (now in the shadow of Canary Wharf) and as an adult spending the Millennium freezing cold in a doorway offering warm cava to the homeless: who knew I’d once experienced a hint of the future? And I don’t mean Canary Wharf.
Finally I thought of New Year’s Eve 2012. I pray now to the Fairy Jobmother that I’ll have enough cash to go out rather than stand at the front door watching my cat looking hopeful and optimistic, making plans for his year ahead.
New Year’s Resolutions:
1. To campaign for onesies to be given to everyone on unemployment benefits from the first day of signing
2. To learn microeconomics to expert standard so as to be able to live on £67.50 per week despite the rising cost of living
3. To have “I acknowledge the debt, I don’t dispute the debt but I have no money to pay the debt” tattooed on one arm – Tulisa style – and “I have no savings and no realisable assets” on my calf
4. To develop a skin thick enough to tolerate cold temperatures in order to outwit NPower and their weekly surcharges
5. To convince Chaplin to stay, to remain my flatmate, despite things taking a downwardly-mobile turn in 2011