As this damp planet slowly ends its solar waltz once more I can't help thinking about the year to come and that most fragile of emotions, namely hope. If we were rockets it would power us.
In the Christmas song Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas we hear the lines From now on our troubles will be out of sight and similarly From now on our troubles will be miles away.
It is an odd thing yet completely human that we suppose our struggles will vanish as the Old Year turns and the new one dawns. This belief that an arbitrary moment in the passage of time will somehow heal the wounds of the past and fill our lives with new vigour seems to me to be the very essence of hope.
Philip Larkin, in his Whitsun Weddings, expressed hope thus,
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
Larkin links hope with change and the New Year is the biggest change we have. A fresh calender is carefully re-written from the old, whilst we notice the dental appointments we had and the birthdays we missed. Like the arrow-shower we have the power to rise above the humdrum and find new ground.
Yet hope is also frosted with doubt. We talk about the Fates, Destiny, Luck, the First Foot and chance. Somehow we cannot quite accept that things may just get better. We imagine that greater forces must intervene and strew rains of fortune on otherwise barren prospects.
In Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas the line If the Fates Allow, Hang a Shining Star Upon The Highest Bough the Fates seem to control our lives yet free us to place the very light of life itself up high for all to see as the clock strikes twelve. All the power that being changed can give.
So it would seem that as the clock calls time a New Year cocktail of Change and Luck, garnished with fresh Hope and preferably served by the first foot appears to be the best tipple if we wish for further warmth, food and shelter for our loved ones and ourselves in the year to come.
At the strike of twelve tonight when, for an instant, both years roll like dice, please let it be a double six. But if all the unbridled joy and progress we wish for fails to materialise this new year then there is always hope for the next one. As the song advises so well But 'til then we'll have to muddle through somehow.
I wish you all the very best for 2016 readers.