Happy New Year
31 December, 2021
Tonight, New Year’s Eve, we climb Dawson’s Hill not far from Natasha’s home. She assures me that from this vantage point, we will have the best view of London. Here, like so many parts of the world, annual New Year's Eve fireworks have been cancelled, but if the whizzes and bangs are anything to go by, there will be plenty to see.
I arrive breathless (my fitness level is slightly improving) and distance from the small groups of people gathered here. Somewhere from behind us, rockets are being launched; cascades of coloured sparks and the smell of cordite filled the air.
For a moment I am transported back in time to the 1960s when Guy Fawkes Night was a thing in far-flung Melbourne. My dad had been a novice pyrotechnician, nailing Catherine wheels to the backyard playground equipment, and rocket launchers were strategically placed for maximum effect. At the appropriate time, when darkness descended, with an audience made up of our mother and siblings, our own personal fireworks show would begin, as did thousands across the city. We always started with 'penny bungers'; small red and green crackers looped together that would explode as they self-ignited one after the other. Guy Fawkes Night is no longer permitted, nor is the sale of fireworks in Australia. I believe that even the Northern Territory and the ACT no longer sell them. Firework shows in Australia are solely professional now, so banning or cancelling the official fireworks due to COVID has resulted in great disappointment in many Australian cities.
Tonight’s amateur New Year's Eve show here in London, which lasts well into the first hour of 2022 is perhaps a journey down memory lane for me, whilst also a first-hand observation that people are yearning to return to a COVID-free normal.
As much as I love professional fireworks displays, tonight’s random bursts of bangs followed by fizzles of lights and smoke that hang heavily in the air for a few moments will remain one of my more memorable New Year's Eve celebrations.
May 2022 be awesome!