Life

Jake O'Kane: The last time I went out on New Year's Eve, it didn't end well...

I've never bought into New Year celebrations; my morose nature views it more as a marker of my accelerating mortality than a blossoming of new life and opportunity...

Jake O'Kane

Would you let this man across your threshold on New Year's morning?

THE O'Kane household have our own peculiar traditions to bring in the New Year. It begins with us watching Jools Holland's Hootenanny. As Jools introduces his acts, I invariably comment, "I thought they were dead".

My wife's patience eventually breaks and she warns me, "say that once more and you'll be the one who's dead".

My two children have reached an age where they're allowed to stay up until after midnight. While my 14-year-old son still has no issue with his parents kissing him, my 12-year-old daughter has developed a quick head shimmy, ensuring my lips hit her forehead.

After the Hootenanny, I then watched a show featuring acts who have appeared in the Glastonbury Legends slot over the years. I found myself again muttering, "They're dead" and this time, on a few occasions, sadly I was right. Luckily for me, my wife had gone on to bed.

I've never bought into New Year celebrations; my morose nature views it more as a marker of my accelerating mortality than a blossoming of new life and opportunity.

I can only remember going out once on New Year's Eve and it didn't end well. Bored with the fake hilarity and drunken bonhomie, I was home for 12.45, only to discover I'd forgotten my key and was forced to ring the doorbell.

Instead of the front door opening, a window above opened and out popped my mother's head. "I forgot my key, let me in", I explained. The head uttered language not fitting for the start of a new year and retreated inside. I waited and waited and began to worry she'd had a heart attack as the door remained firmly closed.

I rang again and, like a cuckoo clock, the head reappeared. "Stop ringing that bell, you'll waken the house". "What's wrong, why haven't you opened the door?", I asked. "I can't", came the reply.

Presuming something was wrong with the front door, I hopped over our garden wall and tried the back door; it too was locked so this time I knocked.

"I told you, stop the racket, I can't let you in", my mother shouted down. She then explained there was an old country superstition that if a a red-haired man was the first person to cross your door in the new year, it was a guarantee of bad luck.

I argued this was both discriminatory and nonsense, but discovered I was talking to myself as she'd closed the window. I spent the next 40 minutes standing outside, waiting for a dark-haired man or woman to pass who I could use as a key to enter my own house.

During that time not one, but two, army foot patrols passed where I was standing, and I was questioned as to why I was loitering outside at that hour of the night. So ludicrous was my explanation, they merely shook their heads and walked on, no doubt bewildered by the peculiarities of the people they were failing to control.

Salvation arrived in the shape of an inebriated dark-haired neighbour, allowing me to finally gain access. Mother opened the door and I lifted him over the threshold before immediately depositing him back outside, no doubt to his bewilderment.

***

The infamously sweat-free Prince Andrew may have to defend himself against a civil lawsuit for allegedly sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager

WHILE no fan of baubles from monarchy, I was pleased to see that many scientists and medics involved in fighting the pandemic were recognised in the New Year's honours list.

Of course, there was the predictable smell of cronyism in the announcement of billionaire Tory donor David Harding's knighthood. Having given £1.5m to the Tory war chest since 2006, the hedge fund manager's knighthood was more a reward than award.

While we know those who've bent the knee, few remember those notables who refused a knighthood, such as playwright Alan Bennett, rock star David Bowie, film director Danny Boyle, author and soldier TE Lawrence and my personal favourite, artist LS Lowry.

Lowry – world-renowned for his paintings of matchstick men – declined not only a knighthood but also an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a CH on two separate occasions, giving him the record for having declined the most honours.

A civil case brought against Prince Andrew – Duke of York, KG, GCVO, CD, ADC – by Virginia Giuffre accuses him of sexual abuse, alleging she was trafficked to him aged 17 by his friend Ghislaine Maxwell and her partner Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew is fortunate he doesn't sweat, considering he's been left hanging on the deliberations of a New York judge for a week.

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