Normally, in recent years, Jane and I have attempted to dream in the new year - i.e. we've gone to bed and tried to get to sleep before all the commotion begins. Boring, I know, but we're older, and wiser, and tireder (OK and more boring) than we were. Well, I say wiser; but perhaps not - since we never succeed. Not surprisingly, as we're in the middle of the village, and at ten to midnight the bells in the church next door begin to ring 'muffled', which sets the dog off barking downstairs; then there's quiet while they unmuffle the bells and the dog gradually subsides. Then midnight strikes, the bells start again, unmuffled, and fireworks from parties all over the village go off, including near neighbours' who seem to specialise in mortar bombs which explode in the sky. The dog is really unhinged by what clearly is to her a cacophony of noise and barks hysterically and inconsolably long after the celebrations finish - until a couple of hours later inebriated revellers wend their merry way home through the churchyard and past our house. However, LAST night was different.
We had a candlelit supper å deux, and then sat by the fire. I read some of 'The Shack' - interesting book, by the way, quite raw in places. Then we ventured over to church, at 9.30. Our pals, Mandy and Charles, reckoned 2009 is going to be a significant year for the UK and for the church here and had suggested seeing in the New Year with a special service. I was wrapped up in a blanket for the first time in my life, with hat etc - though it wasn't as cold as it had been here. Down the ramp, into a church lit with tea lights and candles. Christmas tree, and star shining over the crib. Atmospheric. Then we had two and a half hours of worship, including mulled wine, smoked salmon and communion - and of course music. All that was missing was dancing. People kept coming in and out. We were a jolly party by the end. The bellringers arrived and rang in 2009, and we went outside launching a colossal rocket and waving sparklers. Maybe it's not your idea either of worship or of a party, but the company was brilliant and I have a feeling God liked it.
So in a blaze of light, we set off for home in 2009. The odd thing was that we weren't at all tired - which I reckon's a minor miracle seeing I had been sure I wouldn't stay the course. In fact I finished 'The Shack' before going to sleep.
Oh yes, and how did the dog enjoy it, you ask? Unsurprisingly, she was pleased to see us home; surprisingly when the mortar fireworks went off soon after, she wasn't bad. When they stopped, she stopped and went to sleep. Thanks for asking.
By the way, a Happy New Year!