I have never liked New Year's Eve much. This is mostly because I find it fairly meaningless. I've struggled to see a point to it ever since it dawned on me that the time at which we decide a new year has started is completely arbitrary, and we are therefore celebrating nothing. Also since it dawned on me that I don't get invited to parties and everyone on earth is having more fun than me even when it's NOT New Year's Eve, let alone when it is.
So my dislike of the occasion really comes down to irritation at others making a big deal over something I'm basically indifferent to.
Or to boil it down: in this, as in all other things, people give me the pip.
But no matter how rationally you assess the emptiness of New Year's, you are human and the mindset seeps in: this is the end of something, and the beginning of something else. Draw a line under the last 365 days, we have a new batch for you.
Because I'm someone who has always found himself being borne ceaselessly into the past. I obsess over past disappointments, fret over past mistakes, analyse past events, and wish myself back in time, either to right wrongs, or to enjoy better times. I can't escape the past: a memory with a peculiar gift for keeping the most minor events and throwaway comments accessible in my brain has caused me to be constantly poring over what has been even as I look forward to what will be.
It's not all bad - a keen awareness of where you've been gives a good sense of perspective, provides a foundation for your life.
But it also tugs at you, bites and tears with regret.
And at New Year, the celebration of the ticking over of the calendar just makes me look back at the year about to end, and suddenly I am crushed beneath the weight of the disasters, and the failings, and the regrets. The end of the year does nothing for me so much as make me hang my head in shame for the hash I've made of it.
So I just can't get myself in that celebratory mode. Festivities are not for me at the end of 2011. It's too awful what we've been through to get here.
But what's done is done. I can't change the past, as much as I'd like to. I can't make amends. I can't balance out the world. All I can do is apologise, and apologies seem all that's appropriate for me as we stare out into the seas of 2012.
So I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't been as good to you all as I could have been. I'm sorry to those who I've let down, my family, my friends, my readers. I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made, I'm sorry for the jobs I've stuffed up. I'm sorry for being a bad friend, a bad husband, a bad father, a bad brother, a bad son. I know I'm not always bad - I'm sorry for letting myself be bad when I know full well how not to be.
I'm sorry for being surly, and moody, and irritable, for not being as kind, or as companionable, or as amusing, as the man inside me screams at me to be. I'm sorry for letting down everyone who knows me, and for letting down everyone who might know me better if I hadn't failed.
I'm sorry for those I've upset: who I've saddened and angered with my thoughtlessness and stupidity. And I'm sorry that I have driven some away so completely they probably won't even read this. I hope they do - I want more than anything for them to know how sorry I am.
I'm sorry to you all for the ways I've wronged you, and with the deepest shame I admit I am sorry for the ways I'll wrong you in the future.
And maybe more than anything, I'm sorry to myself, for not living up to my own standards, for being too lazy, or too irritable, or too selfish, to be who I want to be. I'll try harder and harder, and I'll be sorry again for falling short I'm sure.
The world is a beautiful place, full of beautiful people, and I'd like for as many of those beautiful people as possible to feel that my existence in the world makes it just slightly better. But for all those moments when I fail in that, for all the times I've made someone's world a darker place, for all the times I've stumbled and forgotten my lines in this show...I'm so sorry.