|A Disastrous New Year
by Sarah Shuckburgh
It was a long wait for midnight. Our rented cottage had no
TV, and our five children were determined to stay up. As
darkness fell - at 4pm - the youngest asked "Is it midnight
yet?" We'd finished supper by 7pm. We spun out a fractious
game of Monopoly. Then we played hide-and-seek. By 10pm,
even hunt-the-thimble was ending in tears.
Outside, Painswick Beacon loomed against the night sky, and
with sudden bravado we decided to welcome the New Year from
the top. Muffled against the wind, we scrambled through the
darkness. The grassy slope became a daunting assault course
by torchlight, with unexpected canyons and precipices, but
at midnight we sprawled on the damp summit, gazing at the
distant lights of seven counties. Suddenly, one of the
Then another. "We found some vodka", admitted the youngest,
"And we drank it all up". For the next three hours, in
driving rain and under an inky sky, we lugged five sodden,
intoxicated children, inch by inch, between canyon and
copse, leaving five trails of puke and tears.
Moral: Lock up the vodka, and alter clocks and watches so
that midnight comes at 8.30pm.
First published by the Telegraph