Why must we go outside?

There's a strange behaviour here in the UK just before midnight on 31st December, and I don't know whether it's something which infects other nations too.

But there's a strange desire to go outside. Whether it's freezing cold or raining or snowing or whatever, one MUST go outside and say "Happy New Year" then come back in again.

This isn't the old tradition of bringing coal in and going out the back door and in through the window or whatever that tradition says, it's just an in-built programme which fires off around quarter to midnight and before you know it, everyone in the room is wrapped up in miles of scarfing and wearing thick coats trying to marshall each other outside into the garden in time for midnight.

2009 doesn't feel any different to 2008 so far. Well, we do have a new kitchen bin, but that hardly makes the year feel special. There's a sense of optimism at midnight when the New Year arrives but then you wake up the following morning and read that Israel are about to send ground troops into Gaza and the Russians are turning off gas supplies to the Ukraine and realise that the world moves on, untroubled by the arbitrary numbers and labels we attach to the passing transits of the sun across the sky.

I've stuck to my resolutions so far, which is good going as it's nearly 19 hours now... :-)

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