New Year's Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

An all too common description of New Year celebrations.


Everyone crosses their arms across their chest, so that their right hand reaches out to hold the hand of the person on their left, and vice versa, and singing Auld Lang Syne. The countdown to the strokes of midnight had sounded, and it was the time to get right into the spirit of the New Year. Previous to that, those who celebrated the New Year, had been eating and drinking as if they would never see food and drink ever again. Unlike Christmas, the New Year wasn’t a family affair, but more that of eating out in a restaurant or a pub. The majority of the general public preferred to be with friends or even strangers anywhere - except at home. Some of the revellers took to getting into their cars, and driving around the streets making as much noise as they possibly could without getting arrested. The pubs did an amazing trade, as they had already done at Christmas, and made the most of it. No one was denied a drink, when it was obvious that many were just not fit to stand on their own two feet, let alone drive a car. There were no nights off for the police to enjoy the party, every one was needed to maintain law and order.

The people who had managed to survive Christmas were on their last legs with so much partying. The screams and shouts of Happy New Year were to be heard all over the planet. There were, of course, those who were not at all interested in celebrating anything, the main reason being, having to be back at work the next day and return to the daily grind, after so many days suffering from a hangover, was not an idea that animated anyone. The streets were slushy with dirty old snow, black with pollution, having lost the crisp whiteness that it had had a short time before.


Cynthia worked in a hospital in the Accident and Emergency department. She had taken on the holiday work because it paid well, and she wanted to be occupied away from home, and work was a valid excuse not to be there. Cynthia and her husband, Martin, and daughters Ruby and Pearl, were planning on going down to see his parents and brothers the day after the first of January. They had chosen that date, hoping the traffic on the roads would be quieter, and they would be able to travel without having their hearts in their throats.


The partying went on all night and people were seen coming out of one of the most popular pubs, ‘The Lemon Trees’. No one knew the origin of the name, but it soon became known as ‘The Lemoners’. It was situated in the High Street. ‘The Lemon Trees’ was a very popular pub, and even when there was nothing to celebrate, the bars were quite crowded. The food was considered to be of the very best. On New Year’s Day, before the majority of the inhabitants of the small sleepy town were up and about, a group of drunken men staggered their way out of the pub and were in such an inebriated state, that the publican called for the police and an ambulance.


Cynthia was behind the reception desk at the hospital when the noisy and vomiting group arrived. Altogether they made a sorry sight, the swagger they had been showing, vanished as soon as they knew where they were. One by one, they were asked how much they had drunk and what it was. One of them simply lay down on the floor and threw up all over the highly polished floor. Cynthia and another nurse, took another man to a bathroom to get him cleaned up. They asked him his name and address, but his head wasn’t working well, and all he did was sway about while they were struggling to get him under the shower. When he was dry and in bed, wearing clean pyjamas, they searched his pockets and found his driving licence. The other men went through the same process, until all of them were installed in beds. Cynthia said, “They ought to be ashamed of themselves, behaving in that fashion. They are taking up beds and the medical attention without having a valid reason for it. It’s a good thing none of them was driving.” Cynthia having spoken, went off to give the men’s names to the registrar.


Earlier that day, while it was still dark, a young man had been admitted, who had done his best to wrap his motorcycle around a lamp post. The injured patient was called Norman Cooper, and he had some of his brain coming out from his ear. He was operated on, and his two broken legs were put together, and they were pulled on pulleys, to make sure they were straight. He was unconscious when he was placed in his bed, on a ward with five other men - all in a bad way after celebrating New Year’s Day.


Selena and Rodney were living together, and the three boys were hers from her previous marriage. They were an irresponsible pair, and loved nothing more than having a good time. They were like many others who thought that the winter solstice was a good excuse for having a bacchanalia and going over the top. The three boys had spent Christmas with their father’s parents, Selena’s ex in-laws, who had no time for her after the divorce, and more so when they knew she had taken up with Rodney. The happy pair went to a party that started just before midnight of the last night of the year. There had been plenty of food and drink, and when Big Ben had chimed the hour they had all sang and danced. The restaurant, where they had gone with friends to bring in the New Year, was outside the town - in the country. Everyone who had gone to the dinner, had gone there by car. It was too far away to get a bus and there were no trains. The restaurant itself served as a venue for weddings and big parties, where the guests could let rip with loud music, and behave in a manner they wouldn’t want their bosses or families to see. The combined noises were worse than a children’s birthday party. The adults’ antics were still going on as dawn began to show its pink hue on the horizon. The waiters served coffee, which was gratefully swallowed down by all those who were still going strong. Selena and Rodney were knocking back as much coffee as they could - they would be going down later to fetch the boys.

The cold dawn forced the partygoers to sober up quicker than they had thought possible. They all wished each other a Happy New Year, and got into their cars. Some of the cars started up far sooner than others, the freezing night had got to the engines making them extraordinarily difficult to get going. Selena and Rodney were heavy-eyed after being up all night without a moment’s rest, just having a good time dancing and drinking with their friends. Rodney, who wasn’t in a good frame of mind, swore and shouted as his vehicle showed no signs of wanting to get started. Selena got out and ran insto the restaurant, and asked two of the waiters who were still hanging around helping out cleaning up, to push the car. Rodney stayed inside the car while the two young men pushed the car as hard as they could. The sound of the engine purring was more than welcome. Selena thanked them, and gave them a tip for their help. She slid into her seat beside Rodney, and sat back to enjoy the ride to pick up the children.


Cynthia was still at work when the ambulance came to a screeching halt outside the Accident and Emergency unit. The police entered, and told those on duty, there had been a multi-car crash in the country, and they hadn’t yet been able to count the casualties. There was a lot of rushing around and giving out orders. Selena was rushed up to an operating theatre, but with devastating injuries. Rodney had died on an impact with the car in front. More and more bodies were taken to the hospital - and others - where the lack of beds for the severely injured was made more acute by the large number of drunks occupying the much-needed beds.

Selena died on the operating table, and the registrar had to make the unpleasant phone call to inform Selena’s parents, who then had to tell her ex in-laws. Selena and Rodney, weren’t the only ones to die that day who had been partying all night long. The happy pair, who had started the night full of party spirit, had become another national statistic. The three boys went to live with their father and his new wife. Whatever they thought of the accident and the aftermath, they never said anything until much later, when they were practically adults. Rodney’s family blamed Selena for encouraging him to be as silly as she was, and everyone else put the blame on the icy roads.


Cynthia and Martin never got to travelling the second of January, due to the heavy number of patients. The hospital had to ring up those nurses and doctors who were enjoying their Christmas and New Year break, and ask them to go in to help out. The ones who had gone away were let off, as being out of contact and too far away.

That afternoon of New Year’s Day, proved to be even more taxing for the general public than the days leading up to it. If the road conditions were bad, then the railway conditions were considered much, much worse. So many ticket carrying passengers got to the railway stations, only to find a board standing at the ticket office saying:



That was quite out of the question, as many of the passengers needed to take more than one train. So how were they supposed to get home in time for supper, and a good night’s sleep, before going back to work the next day? Would any boss believe in the story of the trains not functioning? Only if he/or she had been one of the victims. The disgruntled public, aging from babies to the elderly, stood in the cold till a bus with a driver turned up to take them to their destinations. They clambered aboard with travel bags and suitcases, some with dogs included. No one was allowed to stand, so they all sat, and those who didn’t manage to get on the first bus, got on a second one.  For those who were going on a relatively short journey, the day ahead didn’t appear as grim as for the rest,. who would be going to the other side of the country. As the heavy snowfalls had been general, whatever means of travelling, would be hampered by the terrible road and rail conditions. In some parts there was severe flooding and it made everyone wonder what was worse - the heavy snow or the high water. Families with small children had big problems, as their little darlings just didn’t understand why they were not allowed to run around and make a terrific din, which only added to the misery of the elderly and to those who were without children. The tension got so bad, that eventually, in some cases, things got to boiling point, and fights broke out over the allocation of seats. Being a solo traveller or a pair was easy, but for families with so much luggage, plus children and dogs, it wasn’t easy to fit all of one group into a bus. By the time they got home after starting and stopping to change vehicles, and making phone calls to friends and family to come and pick them up, it was well past midnight.

Many of those who suffered that day, vowed to go abroad the next New Year’s Day for a mini-break. There was still a bit of Christmas cheer going the rounds in the form of champagne and cakes and mince pies, and in the case of families, they shared their stuff with some of the others. In fact, most of the travellers on New Year’s Day had some kind of victuals on them. In the end, it was the food and drink that settled the children and some of the cranky old folk down, and made them feel more comfortable, and slept most of the journey. As long as there were no breaks till the passengers arrived at a spot as near to their homes as possible, all went fairly well. But as soon as the bus could only go so far, and everyone was obliged to get off and get another one, then nerves became over-strained, and scenes were the order of the day. The adults were on their mobiles, looking for alternative ways to travel, away from the danger zones. The country roads had been gritted and were snow free, and presented a welcome sight to those who had chosen to travel by road. Many were still grumbling about the state of the railway lines, and how they should have been home hours ago.


Cynthia and the other nurses were rushed off their feet by the extraordinary number of road traffic accident patients. More and more ambulances arrived, till there was no more room in the parking area. Some time during the day, the registrar put up a notice in large letters, informing all those who arrived from then on, would not be admitted simply because there was nowhere to fit anyone in. The bad feeling meant tempers were at a high, and when some car drivers made a rush for the car park, they were brought up to a halt against metal barriers. A number of ambulances made a long chain, to prevent any vehicle that went to the hospital with a person who was suffering from nothing less than a cold or flu or over indulgence in food and drink from the festivities the night before, from getting in. The corridors were full of those who preferred to wait and stay in the warm, rather than return home. The maternity cases were diverted to maternity units in other hospitals that were less crowded. That led to all sorts of comments and angry altercations between the medical staff and the mothers-to-be and their families.


Selena’s parents went to the hospital and asked for her remains to be sent to the undertaker for cremation in a few days. When asked why the hurry, they replied - to get it over and done with, so that her sons were able to accept what had happened, and get on with their lives.


Cynthia and Martin decided never to make plans for the New Year ever again. It just wasn’t worth it.


Somehow, the planning is the best part, but as there is no way of making sure about what the weather will be like, or the traffic - it is better to stay at home. 

Submitted: December 27, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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