Happy New Year!!

Fireworks in Melbourne – New Year’s Eve, 2006

I sit here at 5.30pm on New Year’s Day, the sky is grey and the rain pours down outside. A welcome relief from the 42 degree heat of yesterday, and while some might see it as an inauspicious start to 2007, I’m sure the firefighters over near Illawarra State Forest, Lancefield and Bonnie Doon are glad of the respite and possible ending to the bush fire threat in those areas.

I spent New Year’s with my partner Julian – just the two of us, had a lovely dinner at idibidi in Bruswick St, then a couple of drinks at a groovy bar, The Cape Lounge, also on Brunswick St. Then we headed into the CBD to see the fireworks.

This is something that I always intended to do, every year, yet never seemed to quite manage it. I’ve seen fireworks in Trafalgar Square on a very cold NYE in London, shared with two very good friends – Aki and Jonjo – rugged up against the cold and stuck up near Charring Cross – due to the amount of people crowded into the streets – so far back we couldn’t even see the clock tower that houses Big Ben, so I’m still not sure when midnight came that year. (possibly indicitive of what that year was to bring, as that was also the night I was to meet a tall, blonde French Canadian who would cause much confusion – as well as happiness, I have to admit – ending in disappointment, as well as having a year of uncertainty and enormous highs and lows career-wise, all, thankfully, tempered by loyal and stalwart friends and family … but that’s another story from a time long, long ago …)

If that snowy, freezing London New Year’s Eve was an indicator of what the next year would bring, then 2007 should be a year of happiness, love, luck and goals achieved very successfully, filled with a childlike wonder and joy, if last night is anything to go by.

Firstly, we weren’t sure what to do for New Year’s. With no particular plan we headed into Brunswick Street. We wandered around, checking out the various cafes and restaurants that were open, and settled on idibidi. No tables outside, so we stepped into the restaurant and sat near a door. After a couple of minutes, Julian decided on an impulse to go outside for some air and found an outside table was now available – so we relocated to the street, right on the corner of the eating area (strangely, the same table we’d had last year on NYE). We had a great meal (me – the Caesar Salad, Julian the Risotto), then headed down the street to find a drink – found The Cape Lounge nearly empty, so jumped onto one of their very comfy couches at the back of the bar and had a couple of drinks. The bar filled up incredibly quickly about 10 minutes later (they must have just opened the doors), and we people-watched for about an hour. Then I realised that in my usual ditzy way, I’d left my jacket at idibidi (like I needed it anyway last night!). Julian, the true gentleman that he is, offered to go and see if it was still there – and returned 10 minutes later with jacket in hand. (Thank you to the kind waiter who had spotted it on the seat and took it into the restaurant for safe-keeping – we didn’t get your name, but your sharp eyes are most appreciated!!!).

We then headed into the city – trams were jammed (no surprise, as it was free transport all over the city last night), so we caught a cab to Bourke Street, then walked onto the Exhibition Street Bridge (which overlooks the railyards) to watch the fireworks. While the general view of the traintracks wasn’t that inspiring, turns out the choice of location was excellent for our objective – a clear view of the fireworks from Birrarung Mar to Princes Bridge. A couple of txt messages to those elsewhere wishing them a Happy New Year and then midnight struck …

I have to say that the fireworks were a fantastic display of light and colour and form. It seemed that the “river of fire” theme was continued this year – with fireworks filling the sky from Alexandra Gardens, Birrarung Marr, Waterfront City and New Quay Docklands (as well as the odd spark from the top of the Commonwealth Bank building and a few (I suspect) illegal offerings from the top of residential penthouse suites along the Yarra.

Some cynical people out there might find it irrational, but I love a good fireworks display. It appeals to my inner-child and I always watch then with wide-eyed wonder and joy. The fireworks last night did not disappoint, I am happy to say, and I observed myself watching them with a wide grin and a light in my eyes that came from within. It was good to be alive during those 15 minutes, and leaning on the bridge railings (on the phone to my Mum, who was home looking after my 5 year old niece) holding hands with a truly wonderful man, I felt intensely joyful and glad to be on the planet.

We then wandered down to Birrarung Marr, and sat on the grass to watch some of the movie being shown on a large screen in the park (“Men In Black”, as it turns out, and, as Julian commented, it was a pity the-powers-that-be didn’t see fit to celebrate Australian film as well that night, although, one hopes they did earlier in the evening). Then we wandered over to the free entertainment stage and made a great discovery – the Melbourne band “True Live” – a fantasic fusion of techno, rap, jazz and classical – check them out at http://www.truelive.com.au/ – you can also buy their album at any JB HiFi store, which I strongly suggest you do.

All in all, it was a very good New Year’s Eve. We finished up back at Julian’s watching a doco on George Lucas on the Biography Channel (as any dedicated filmmaker would!) and then finally went to bed at dawn.

So, today, watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Showtime (bit of a George Lucas theme running through the past 24 hours!), I am filled with a sense of good things on the horizon and new hope – which I guess most New Year’s bring. But I really feel that this year could be a good one. And I sincerely hope that it is for everyone. The planet needs a strong dose of hope and happiness.

So, my New Year’s Resolution (apart from the usual, eat healthier, sleep more, take better care of myself and be more organised) is to make the world a better place as best I can. To contribute positively to the world, in whatever form that will be, on whatever scale. To be a happier, friendlier and kinder person. And to achieve my goals and complete my projects that will hopefully foster and realise this ambition, as well as help others achieve theirs.

Am I an idealist? Undoubtedly. Do I think I can achieve this. Absolutely. Will I waver occasionally? Of course, I am, after all, only human. But if the spirit of goodwill continues to be fostered within, then I will more often succeed than not.

All I have to do is remember that feeling of wonder and joy last night as I stood on that bridge watching the sky light up with greens and pinks and blues and yellows and every other colour in-between, feeling the happiness of breathing and experiencing and being.

And to begin my commitment to my resolution, I wish the same feelings of joy and wellbeing to everyone, no matter their colour, creed or political affiliation. May everyone know the experience of true peace this year and all the years to come.

Happy New Year.


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