Jack hates New Year celebrations. That is – fireworks. From the moment the first sky rocket sizzles into the night and explodes like a drumbeat of doom pounding his doggy ears, to the last shrill pop of some joker’s illicit cracker, he cringes, cries and cowers.
I on the other hand am a child and love sparkles. This year I was able to catch glimpses of the fireworks at Lakes Entrance from the front window of the house where we stay. The more magnificent the rain of colour, the more thunderous the sound and the more anxious Jack became. I tried to explain how pretty it was and massage his tense back, but there was nothing doing, he wasn’t buying it. He was not convinced things would get better.
But enough is enough. Once the last whiff of burnt sulphur disperses, it’s time to put 2016 to bed forever, and forget that it had ever existed.
It was a crock.
My daughter was sick with endometriosis and unable to work for six months. My son had a car accident and wrote off his car. He had bikes and surfboards stolen from his flat. My dear Auntie died. My sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. I suffered from an inflamed bowel and just before Christmas, the Government said that I owed their agency around five hundred dollars from six years ago. Woo-bloody-hoo.
The weather didn’t help. Australia was wetter than average and warmer than average – it was like living in a loony giant’s experimental hot house. Dorothea Mackeller would have been proud as the triumvirate “flood and fire and famine,” that appear in her poem My Country, danced about the land creating havoc. Heatwaves, bushfires, atypical northern flooding, supercell storms, national record breaking autumn heat, record breaking South Australian rainfall and, climate newcomer to the said state, tornadoes, spun emphatically out of control.
From within my rain battered, wind lashed, heat scorched little house, Jack and I occasionally flicked the curtains back and peeked nervously at the outside world to see if it still existed.
And it did. It was not the world I, as a flower child of the sixties and seventies envisaged. Those denim, donning days were embroidered with the silken threads of the pursuit of enlightenment. The quest for peace and love, the mystical and spiritual, and the rejection of the material became the mantra. The world of 2016 wasn’t like that.
2016 was a sad, shrunken year. A year riddled with protectionist, frightened, greedy, hate speech sprouted by a profusion of bloated bombastic, privileged blobs who ping ponged off each other, at angles no one seemed to see coming.
Jack and I hurriedly closed the curtains, hunkered down and dreamt of brotherly and doggerly love. I lit a stick of patchouli incense which infused the dark air and kindled a golden nostalgia. I bedecked Jack and myself with multi-coloured love beads, (which he attempted to eat.) A futile search took place to locate a scratched vinyl of Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan until I remembered that I had thrown out the record player and that Leonard Cohen was gone. Then we ate fondue. Ha – I’d never eat fondue, but Jack loved it.
So bugger off 2016. I’m glad you are over. The fireworks have stopped – or have they? Like Jack, I’m not convinced of that – or that things will get better. I can hear the reverberation of some cracker. So as they say in All About New Year’s Eve,* it may be a matter of – “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy year.”
Happy New Year.
*Apologies to Bette Davis in All About Eve