Nightwatch: New year, new you
Holy left-over mince pies, I can't believe it. The New Year is here already. He's parked outside my window sporadically beeping his horn with the meter running and I still haven't even washed Christmas out of my hair yet, let alone come to terms with the fact it's 2010 and I'm supposed to be ready.
It's not just a New Year, but a new decade. God, as if things aren't hard enough every year at this time when you have to self-analyse the past 12 months, let alone the past 10 years. A council meeting with the lads is definitely required.
Donal and Danny are already there, smoking outside the pub door, when I arrive. "This is our last pack," they lie. "Baz, are you giving up with us?" I nod ever so slightly, while rubbing my hands to imply I'm too cold to continue this conversation outside. Don't get me wrong, I want to give up the smokes, I just don't want to promise that to anyone yet -- especially myself.
Mark is returning from the bar carrying so many pints he looks like he's trying to break a record. We sit at the round table and join Garreth. He's dying, not in the conventional check his pulse, medical definition, but in the "met a girl in Lillie's last night, drank his own bodyweight in shots of Jaeger bombs and pints of Carlsberg and the next morning -- after losing his wallet -- had to navigate his way back to Ranelagh from Rush" way.
He is perched at the table, motionless -- like some sick budgie in a shirt that's far too bling for panto let alone 1pm. He continues complaining about how he can't believe he went to Rush when there was another girl from Stillorgan he could have copped off with. Romantic, isn't it, when you put a geographical radar on your heart? "No more binge drinking, that's it. I'm going to find a nice girl this year, someone really special," he declares.
So the viscount of virtue has a plan for the New Year, but what about the others? Mark's girlfriend Diane is pregnant and he's having a bit of a tough time. She has broken up with him four times over the Christmas holidays alone. Johnny is giving him all the advice of a married man with four kids. "The good times don't outweigh the bad, they don't outweigh the bad," I overhear him chant while he wraps his arm around Mark. Inspiring stuff. Donal, thankfully, interrupts and has a much more positive take on the whole pregnancy chapter and actually donates some useful advice.
Garreth is already back at the gym, cleverly getting a headstart on the rest of us. Mind you, apart from that shirt, he does look good and I have to say he has motivated me purely out of male jealousy.
Danny broke up with his girlfriend of four years on Christmas Eve and has decided to quit his job to go travelling in Asia in February. It's particularly amazing since he has the directional sense of a lemming and has never really ever left Ireland, except for Old Trafford and the odd holiday in Spain.
But when I look back at the past 10 years, I have to wonder how much can you really plan? If you put on weight, you know you have to go the gym or start playing football again. If you wake up every night with a different girl and spend more on medication than taxis, then you need to start changing your lifestyle. If you hate your job and want to kill your boss, then you need to look at going back to study and maybe doing a course so you can make those dreams happen. If you've tried and tried with a woman you know you once loved but now makes you miserable every day, then you need a fresh start. Don't be mistaken: this is a fresh start to be the new you, the new updated 2010 version.
Over the past 10 years, I've seen some married friends divorce, some single friends find love, some bankrupt friends become rich and some rich friends become poor. I've seen friends work hard and achieve dreams they would never have even uttered out loud because they thought they would never come true. I've seen friends die and friends who seemed dead come alive. Everyone has their sad stories, but, and as I sit with my best mates, I see how happy we all are despite what turns our lives have taken.
The New Year is a great time to make things happen, but procrastination is a dream killer. Say nothing to anyone and just make it happen. The first thing you should be doing this New Year is looking up ... and giving up the fags ... again!