Going away with family can be stressful. Especially, I imagine, if you are a parent of six children and attempting to get them all from A to B without losing anyone. Despite the difficult task my parents faced, they managed it. We arrived in London on the 31st, eagerly anticipating the city’s annual firework spectacle to welcome in the New Year.
One of the problems with having such a large family is expense. But, seeing as we hadn’t had a family holiday this year I think my Dad was more than willing to pay exorbitant prices to secure a nice, swanky hotel in Leicester square. When you’ve spent the previous night in a Premier Inn in Stevenage, sleeping in a bed that may as well have been a slab of concrete, your standards aren’t particularly high. Arriving at a hotel where complimentary copies of the Financial Times are arranged artistically in a fruit bowl in the lobby is certainly a strange leap.
It doesn’t take much to entertain my brothers: after discovering you could watch YouTube videos on the TV, we didn’t hear from them for a few hours. Weary from travelling and anticipating a night of partying, the elder Kirkbrides had a nap. I feel like an old lady admitting that, but it’s true. I just can’t hack social occasions without a good ‘ol nap, first. What?
Naturally, the rules of posh hotels are as follows:
1) Have a bath. Then have a shower. Because YOLO. You’re not paying the electricity bill.
2) Haven’t used all the tea making materials? Stuff ’em in your bag. You never know when you may need a packet of artificial sweetener… because you definitely don’t have teabags at home… and those little pots of milk taste SO nice…
3) Imagine yourself with a double-barrelled surname and prestigious title like ‘Lady’ ‘Dame’ ‘Baron’ or ‘Duke’. Look down your nose at the peasant scum who aren’t staying in your hotel. Yeah you own the hotel now. No biggie.
4) Walk around in a bathrobe with a glass of Moet in your hand and say “yarrr” a lot
Showered, bathed, and full of coffee I didn’t really want to drink but did anyway, because it was there… we set off.
Naturally, given the British are renowned for their queueing, there was a line of people that stretched right the way up to Buckingham palace. Similarly British in fashion, everyone stood in polite silence, freezing their bits off. Everyone, that is, except the Kirkbride family. A game of bogies; a sing-a-long of ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen and a failed attempt to start a Mexican wave and we were somewhat nearer the front of the queue.
Here saw the public humiliation of all those impatient individuals who attempted to jump in the line; my Mum shouted and booed them much to their chagrin, kicking up so much of a fuss that they quit while they were ahead and stopped attempting to push in. My Mum was met by approval from the strangers next to us in the queue and I nearly died from shock. British people talking to strangers?! What on earth is the world coming to?!
Despite my sister remembering about her hipflask moments before passing through the security checkpoint and covertly passing it to my Mum to hide in the nick of time, we had got through without any difficulty. Now, three hours of waiting. Ah.
Naturally, given the time of year, it was bloody freezing. Being the idiot that I am, had failed to bring a pair of gloves. It’s a wonder I even have fingers left to write this with. Bored of standing around in the cold, and severely lacking alcoholic beverages to warm us up a bit, my Mum and I went on a booze hunt. We ended up queueing for a good half an hour to get into the only pub in the vicinity, chatting to a guy from a band who was behind us as we did so. Carrying three pints each back through the crowded streets of London was no mean feat, and I’m pretty sure I’m now qualified for the Olympics. If there was a People Dodging event I’d come top, I’m certain.
A slight dampener when we got back to discover my brother was feeling ill, only to discover the silver lining as he spewed all over the curb – it meant we had plenty of room as everyone *sensibly* avoided the vomit. I decided that as a music lover, the ultimate Playlisting goal is to put together the soundtrack to the countdown in London. Not impressed by the likes of Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ or Dizzee Rascals’ ‘Bonkers’, I of course sang along anyway. It’s weird how you wind up knowing the words to songs that you genuinely never listen to. Surrounded by misery guts in comparison (and one young couple who definitely regretted standing near us by the end of the evening – me shouting along to ‘Starships’ isn’t exactly the romantic backdrop they were anticipating I don’t think), we kept warm by singing and dancing, sloshing our drinks on unfortunate strangers.
Finally it was time… the buildings opposite had the countdown projected onto it and there was laughter as my siblings unwittingly sped up, out of time with the rest of the world. Then again, that’s just our family for you.
The fireworks themselves were spectacular, truly breathtaking. It’s understandable that people of London were angry that the event wasn’t free like it has been in previous years, but in all honesty it was well worth paying for. There’s always the argument that fireworks are a frivolous waste of public money when there are homeless people etc. but I think sod all that. Fireworks are fucking awesome, and London put on a show and a half.
It was interesting that most people watched the spectacle through their phone cameras/iPads, though. Granted, I took a lot of pictures on my phone myself, but I put my phone away well before the end of the display to truly absorb the magnitude of the occasion. I don’t think anyone who stood watching the fireworks through the lens could’ve taken away the same feeling of awe and splendour, but each to their own. It is after all, a digital world… and a free country.
Standing outside in the cold for several hours to watch a New Years fireworks celebration is wholly recommendable – just make sure you a) take enough booze to get you through (or else grow 9 more arms so you can carry more drinks back from the pub) and b) for goodness sake take a pair of gloves.
2014 went out with a bang and 2015 had a sparkling start. I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and look forward to getting well and truly bladdered next year!