Friday, 31 December 2010

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New.

New Year's Eve means so many different things to different people. For some, it's a farewell to what was maybe not such a good old year, a chance for things to change for the better. For others, it's the opportunity to state, almost publicly, the things they're going to achieve in the next twelve months - lose weight, quit smoking, maybe even finish that novel....!

Me, I don't make resolutions any more, partly because I rarely keep them and can't stand the beating-myself-around-the-head moments when those bathroom scales show the lbs creeping back up, or the clock hasn't quite made it till 6pm before I reach for my much-needed Friday night glass of wine! Nowadays I don't sign myself up to anything other than perhaps simply the acceptance that things will happen anyway and sometimes you can't do a thing about them other than grabbing the lemon squeezer and a big jug full of ice and see what good lemonade you can make!

If you insist I call that a resolution and have to give it words, okay. I resolve to 'live in the now' as much as I can this year, and will take whatever comes my way with as much good grace as I can muster. Watch this space!

I read in the paper this morning about New year traditions throughout the world. The Scottish capital city of Edinburgh, a place steeped in fiercely guarded tradition, has developed a whole new set of celebrations right in the centre of the city - a massive, open-air concert in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens followed by a huge firework display from the Castle ramparts. Edinburgh knows how to party! (Look out for my short story Edinburgh Fog coming from Muse It Up Publications next year - I told you I'd be open to opportunity!) It'll be cold in Edinburgh, but in Sydney, Australia, it's midsummer, and it'll be fireworks and parties in shorts and summer dresses. Times Square, NYC, has the famous ball-drop, while in Spain you'll gobble up one green grape for every stroke of midnight to ensure a year of good luck.

In A Different Kind Of Honesty, Tony talks about the New Year traditions beloved of his Italian family, as you can read in the excerpt below. He reminisces about childhood, maybe a little wistfully, sure. But he's man enough to know that New Year's about moving on, too. He's open to what comes along, and I'm taking my cue from him this year.

However you celebrate, I wish you all the very best for 2011. Enjoy every moment, and remember - make lemonade whenever you can. Happy New Year!

'Tony looked up at the New Year’s moon, smudged and dusty behind the clouds scudding across its face. Out in the dark, the sound of a party in full, drunken swing carried across the clear night air. “When I was a boy,” he said, “right about now, my mother would be throwing plates out the window.”

Maggie’s lips formed the beginnings of an incredulous laugh. “She what?”

”Oh, yeah. Damn crazy Italians, you know what they’re like.”

“I’ll say. Never know what they’ll do next.”

“You got it.” Glad she’d relaxed a little, he carried on. “It’s traditional, throwing out all the old stuff you don’t need any more. Like the New Year being a time of, I dunno. Renewal, I guess.”

“Out with the old, in with the new.” Maggie nodded. “Clear out all the rubbish.”

“That’s it. Plates, pots and pans...chairs, beds, anything she wants to get rid of.”

“Very funny.” She smiled. “What else would she be doing?”

“Let’s think. Serving up zampone sausage with lenticchie. The lentils represent coins, you know? Which is the only reason my dad eats them. And she’ll be making sure everyone in the house is wearing red underwear.”

She looked at him sideways. “Oh, you’re making that up!”

“Nope. It’s the only thing to wear, if you want good luck for the rest of the New Year. I don’t suppose..?”

Maggie threw her head back and laughed, just the way he remembered. “Not a hope - a girl’s got to have some secrets, you know.” But then, despite the laughter, sadness slipped over her again like the fleeting clouds crossing the moon above them. “I remember my mum cleaning the whole place from top to bottom,” she said. “She’d rope us all in. Very bad luck to go into the New Year with a messy house. But that was a long, long time ago.” She pulled her coat closer around her shoulders, as if she was wrapping herself up safe against the memories. Tony longed to touch her, to kiss all her sadness away forever.

“There’s another thing,” he remembered, “holding a big party that has to last all night so you can see the first dawn of the New Year with everybody you love the most. That’s the best luck of all.”

“And did you?”

“Oh, my brother and I always tried to stay awake, but we could never last the night.” He smiled. “We were just kids. I always wondered what that would be like, to sit up and watch the sunrise. But I never did.”

He leaned his forearms on the rail and looked down into the moonlit yard. Most of the tealights had gone out by now, though a few little golden flames still edged the darkness. A cheer burst out from the distant party, the kind when someone pops open champagne. He let it float past and dissolve into the night.......

..........Tony walked through the silent house, switching the lights off behind him as he made his way to the loft room where he unzipped his overnight bag. He brought out the tiny grey box that had lain there, waiting quietly since the day he bought it. He removed the lid and lifted the top layer of tissue paper to look at the bracelet inside. Silver for moonlight and sapphire for her eyes. He closed the box and put it on the nightstand. Even if she said no to coming with him, he’d still give it to her. It couldn’t belong to anyone else.

At the window, he pushed back the drape with one hand as he unbuttoned his shirt with the other. It was snowing again, a scant fall of tiny flakes that probably wouldn’t last. He thought he heard firecrackers in the distance, a tap-tap-tap barely audible underneath the sound of the party along the road. It only took him a second or two to realise it wasn’t firecrackers.

He opened the door to Maggie, still wrapped in her blue velvet coat. He stood aside to let her in. “Is something wrong?”

“No, not really. It’s only, there’s such a beautiful moon tonight. Look.” She crossed the room to the window. “There it is...I think it’s following me tonight. You know something? When it’s like this, all silvery and perfect, you can sometimes still see it in the morning. Even after the sunrise.”

“The first dawn of the New Year,” he said.

“Yes, that’s it. And I was thinking, what a pity it would be to let that chance go by. When it’s something you always wanted to do.” A single tear escaped and she closed her eyes. “I’ve missed you.”

He took a step toward her and stroked her cheek with the side of his thumb. “Maggie...I don’t know what might happen with us. But I do know there’s no way I can walk away from you tomorrow. I love you too much.”

“Enough to watch the sunrise with me?”

Another tear followed the first and he smoothed it away. “Every sunrise from here on in. Whatever you want. I promise you.”

“I’m not looking for promises,” she said. “All I know is now.”

“So stay with Watch the sunrise with me.”

“Sunrise is hours away.”

“I know.” The blue velvet slipped from her shoulders as he pulled her close, moving his mouth to hers. “Hours and hours.” '

A Different Kind of Honesty is available from the publisher, or on Kindle, and from all the usual sellers in print and in e-book.


Lindsay Townsend said...

Happy New Year, Jane!

I loved your 'A Different Kind of Honesty' - it's the kind of novel that stays in my head for a long time.

Maeve said...

I LOVED this post and the only thing bad about your excerpt was that it immediately drew me in and then ended entirely too soon! *sigh* Yet another wonderful read to add to my "gotta read" list. Happy New Year to you and may 2011 be filled with good health, joy and peace for us all.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thansk so much, Lindsay. :) I just started your 'Holiday In Bologna' today, think we have a trend going! Happy New Year! : -)

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Maeve, thanks so much! And all good wishes to you too for a fabulous year in 2011. :-)

Celia Yeary said...

Happy New Year from Texas! I loved your excerpt. A New Year's celebration is not something we see often in novels. Everything else, yes, but not New Years. I'm having fun reading different posts about traditions and memories of the New Year. Thanks so much, and remember--now we write 2011. Love you-Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Jane, lovely and poignant New Years' scene.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Evie Balos said...


Great post. I want to wish you a wonderful New Year's celebration and a healthy, happy 2011!


Jane Richardson, writer said...

Celia - you're so right about not seeing New Year celebrations so much in novels, and I wonder what that is? Ah, well, we'll do it ourselves!
Dear Savanna and Evie, it's just lovely to see you both, thank you for coming by! Have the most wonderful New Year. :)

Jane x

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Great post! And excerpt! If I could leave right now I'd be on a flight to Edinburgh!

Evie Balos said...

Oops! I meant to include Lindsay and everyone else in my previous post. Gosh, the Christmas alcohol must be lingering in my system, lol.

I'll try this again. :-) Happy New Year, Lindsay and all your followers!



Maggi Andersen said...

Not exactly summery in Australia at the moment, Jane. Most of Queensland is underwater with 100 year floods and in the Southern Highlands, where I live, I'm wearing ughs and a jumper! Hoping to travel through Scotland this year. I love Edinburgh. Enjoyed the excerpt, good luck with your story.

Maggi Andersen said...

Not exactly summery in Australia at the moment, Jane. Most of Queensland is underwater with 100 year floods and in the Southern Highlands, where I live, I'm wearing ughs and a jumper! Hoping to travel through Scotland this year. I love Edinburgh. Enjoyed the excerpt, good luck with your story.