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Have a Happy New Year…if you can

London celebrated the arrival of the New Year in what was under the circumstances rather too flamboyant style last night, with a firework display in, over and around the Wheel. The trouble with a firework display celebration at a time like this is that you can either do them, or cancel them. You cannot tone them down.


I have more photos of how this looked on my telly here.

Huge firework displays fit very snugly into the Way We Live Now, and in particular into the Way We Are Governed Now. More and more fireworks shows are now collectively staged, and collectively viewed, including on TV of course. Meanwhile, free enterprise firework enjoyment is discouraged, allegedly because of safety, but probably also simply because it is free enterprise.

I wonder if there is an EU dimension to this? There usually is, after all. The EU is all about centralised power and the suppression of freelance activity. It is also all mixed up with Roman Catholicism. As is November 5th, otherwise known as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night. Are our continental rulers now discouraging us from celebrating the burning of a Roman Catholic terrorist, who was, like them, hell bent on reversing the defeat of the Spanish Armada?

Whatever the reason, and however much I hate what the new arrangements may or may not symbolise, I prefer the new firework dispensation. I recall being in Germany over the New Year some time in the eighties, and seeing the entire sky of Germany lit up at midnight on the dot. I thought to myself, we should do that, instead of the sputtering, long -drawn-out, chaotic, dog-scaring mess that our November 5th celebrations have degenerated into. (This year’s, to my ears, were particularly feeble and pointless.) Having them all at one means that we can all enjoy them all at once, and then go back indoors and get stuck into the New Year. Which I hope is a happy one for all who read and write here.

None of which means that the inconsolable unhappinesses of many in the world just now, which for me have been most vividly and most gruesomely evoked by Amit Varma, should be ignored.

Who would have thought that the eastern coastal parts of India would, following the tsunami devastation, be afflicted by a shortage of kerosene, of all things and among many other things? Yet it is all perfectly logical. Burying the bodies is taking a long, long time, and by the time many are reached they have decayed and cannot be dragged. Grab hold of a leg, and you end up holding only a leg. Yet the bodies must be disposed of, to prevent disease. So, they must be burned. But for that you need… kerosene.

For the link to that piece I thank Instapundit, who I think has been outstanding in recent days, both with his abundant tsunami linkage � what is happening, what needs to be done, how to help, etc. – and for his abundant postings about and linkings to other matters. Update: as Instapundit again notes, there is now more Amit Varma reportage.

So a very unhappy New Year for many. If any of those reading this are personally afflicted in any way by these terrible events, please know that you have the deepest sympathy of all of us here and of all the other readers of this.

9 comments to Have a Happy New Year…if you can

  • e m butler

    I occasionaly have slow loads on blogs but things perk back up…but yours is consistantly slow taking a minute just to load up … for two weeks the problem has existed

  • It is a solemn holiday indeed for the world. But it is also one in which we should celebrate life and the blessing of both being alive and in such abundance we are able to help others.

    Your points on the EU race toward exactly that from which the Ukrainians are running away is an amazement of human nature in the very face of history I cannot put down.

  • dud

    Are you having a laugh Brian ?

    The vast display this year has nothing to do with the EU or religion . It’s all about supporting London’s olympic bid ! Remember these dreary ‘parties’ in Trafalgar square that we usually have ?


  • craggy_steve

    Personally I can’t bear fireworks, they frighten my livestock terribly, causing them to run around in panic in the dark and occasionally get injured. I think it’s the whizzy ones that spook them, they don’t worry overly about gunfire.

    I also hope the London Olympic bid fails, at least while some Olympic sports are banned in the UK, to allow pistol shooting for the Olympics while denying UK sportsmen the opportunity to practice and compete freely is just too hypocritical for me.

  • Johnathan

    I agree that in the circumstances, a huge display like this may seem inappropriate, but cancellation would have been an empty gesture. The dead would not be brought miraculously back to life by such a step. All we can do is celebrate life and do what we can to help the poor folk out in Asia right now.

    Happy New Year to all my fellow contributors and commenters.

  • Harry Powell

    “ London celebrated the arrival of the New Year in what was under the circumstances rather too flamboyant style last night”. Why is that so, Brian? How does it alleviate the suffering of someone who has lost everything to know that they used slightly fewer fireworks at a London street party than they might otherwise have done? No, I’m sorry, but this is an example of a moral bromide one hears too much of lately, namely that because there is suffering in the world we must be circumspect in the display of our wealth, health or pleasure. What no one seems able to explain is how pulling on the sackcloth adds one particle of happiness to the world.

    If I were a believer in Gramscian conspiracies then I would think your post a classic example of the left’s ‘hegemonic discourse’ in that the moral basis for redistribution in the form of aid and self-denial rests on empathy or compassion for the less fortunate. On the contrary I can think of plenty of non-altruistic reasons for wanting to help the victims of the tsunami (not least of which is that the economic crisis that will surely follow in SE Asia has a strong chance of playing into the hands of radical Islamicists and other authoritarians) and I can think of non-charitable ways of doing this. If this makes me a heartless bastard so be it, perhaps someone needs to do a better job of explaining to me just what is the virtue of compassion anyway.

  • Della

    Dear Brian,
    If you like a nice fireworks display at the New Year why not go to Edinburgh, they always have a good fireworks display at New Years and they have multiple stages with various bands with a mix of traditional Scottish and modern music. The fireworks are also pretty wild in Edinburgh on Guy Fawkes night, it’s pretty much a fireworks display over the whole city. The fireworks at the end of the Edinburgh Festival are also very good (better than New Year because the go on for longer, and it’s not cold) and they have parades, bands and suchlike then too, and of course there is the Festival.

    If you want an EU dimension then you can visit happy in the knowledge that according to polls Scottish people are more Eurosceptic than people in other parts of Britain.

  • Rina Groeneveld

    I have been living in Germany (north and south) for the last 6 years and don’t quite get your comparison as far as fireworks are concerned. Fireworks go on sale here after Christmas and if you go looking for any in the shops on New Year’s Eve, you’re likely to be disappointed. The little housing estate behind us was lit up for an hour and a half from midnight (and a bit before) with private firework displays. (In spite of the call for people to donate the money they would be spending on fireworks to tsunami victims).

  • I also hope the London Olympic bid fails, at least while some Olympic sports are banned in the UK, to allow pistol shooting for the Olympics while denying UK sportsmen the opportunity to practice and compete freely is just too hypocritical for me.

    No kidding? They went that far post Dunblane?

    I celebrated the new year in Tensta, a suburb in the northwestern part of Stockholm. The fireworks left nothing to ask for. It was really nice!

    Celebrate the new year! Celebrate life!