Anyone with family in a different time-zone will be familiar with my situation last night, New Year's Eve. I ended up celebrating New Year twice, firstly at 7pm Eastern Time, which is the equivalent of Midnight in England, then at Midnight Eastern Time. At 7pm I attempted to call my parents. International calls, especially using a calling card (which I use to reduce costs) can often be tricky at major holidays, because of the sheer volume of people attempting to call at the same time. My call was certainly a little confusing, because while I was attempting to call my Father, my Father was trying to call me. So, I got a busy tone (we call it "engaged" in England) and my Dad was leaving me a New Year message on my voicemail as I was trying to call back. Eventually I got through and my Dad picked up immediately, since he was right by the phone. Dad has sometimes been so sweet as to wait until 5am his time to call us to wish us Happy New Year also, but last night he said he was exhausted, so wouldn't be doing that.
Shortly after the call, I headed off to my computer to check on New Year stories from the BBC. I discovered that it had been very cold across Britain, but frozen revellers in many parts of the British Isles still went out to party. In London, there were fireworks, Elton John performing in the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome), and actor Michael Caine said that while he would usually wish for a "prosperous" New Year, "This year I think what we really need is luck, so good luck everybody."
Those of us Brits of a certain age will remember New Year's Eve on TV used to consist of Andy "Donald Where's Yer Troosers?" Stewart with a traditional Scottish Hogmanay show. The last time we were in England, I greatly enjoyed Jools Holland's "Hootenanny" New Year's Eve show. Not a kilt in sight.
Of course, here in the States, we have dear old "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." Dick Clark, who for years has hosted this live show watching the giant illuminated ball drop in New York's Times Square, had a stroke in 2004. Regaining his speech and movement somewhat, he's returned to the show, although his slurred speech does unfortunately give him the delivery of a drunkard, which I guess is somewhat appropriate for the occasion.
But I can't leave this subject without talking about The Ball. This huge illuminated orb, built from Waterford Crystal, has been redesigned using Light-Emitting-Diode technology designed by Philips to use 20% less electricity. Let's hear it for green technology! In fact, instead of turning the ball off once it's done its job, let's leave the ball illuminated all year round so that people can see how green we are! It's the American way.
Happy New Year!