When I was nine years old, and we were living in Nice, I would sit by the window, in my pyjamas, and watch the neighbours leave home to go to various New Year’s Eve festivities. The men all wore black tie, and the women slunk and sparkled. I gazed and sighed, with occasional interruptions by my mother ordering me to bed. I visualised them dining in the carpeted, glittering rooms of the Hôtel Negresco, then sipping pink champagne, watching golden fireworks reflected in the night sea of the Baie des Anges. Once in bed, I projected on the dark screen of my closed eyelids a film of my New Year’s Eves to come. I carefully designed my evening gown, in midnight blue satin. I imagined gliding down a palatial staircase on the arm of a dinner suit. The contents of the dinner suit were a rough sketch of someone tall and skinny, and a wonderful dancer. Someone very intelligent and very shy (my nine year-old self’s taste in men.)
I could not wait to grow up.
... Except that, by the time I did grow up, the fashion had changed and I felt rather short-changed. Outside a few echelons of Society, beyond my immediate reach, New Year’s Eve party goers are now generally clad in ‘smart casual’ attire. The women, at least, make a visible effort by donning aggressive-looking footwear and the odd sparkling shawl. Men, however, go for the I-am-being-myself look (with apologies to well-groomed men – do come up and introduce yourselves, later.)
For several years now, I have been trying to infiltrate groups where formal dress on New Year’s Eve is a strict requirement, but without success. Any tips? Go on, humour me. Help make a girlish fantasy come true.
I love New Year’s Eve. A new beginning. A clean slate. A page full of possibilities.
One of my favourite New Year’s Eve tasks, is to update my Filofax (yes, Filofax.) I ponder over every name. Has he/she been in touch in the past year? Has he/she returned my calls or responded to my e-mails? No? Then he/she gets omitted from the newly transcribed database. All right, all right. In some cases, I apply a two-year rule. Why don’t I keep people’s details, just in case? In case of what? Bring on the broom; let’s sweep the house clean. Fling open the doors and windows, and let new people in!
In parts of Rome, people used to throw old furniture over the balcony, down into the street. They still set off loud firecrackers. The more noise, the better, to boot the Old Year out. They hang miniature broomsticks over their front doors, scacciaguai to keep the house clear of troubles.
31st December is also a time for New Year’s resolutions. How I love writing those! I feel unstoppable and more than capable of keeping every resolution I write down on every line of an A4 sheet of paper. There will be time enough to review my stamina and edit the list on 2nd January. For now, everything is possible, including next New Year’s Eve perfect party. A live orchestra, a roomful of dinner suits and evening dresses, including my own (I can’t decide between claret red and holly green), pink champagne in fine crystal flutes, fireworks dancing on gently rippling waters. A Venetian palazzo would be the ideal setting for such a party.
I wish you all a perfectly happy New Year. May 2012 bring you the Horn of Plenty, and allow you to stretch your talents and opportunities to the full.
© Scribe Doll
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