Time for a sober pause and a few thoughts on things old and new

IF you were wondering how Yorkshire folk of old referred to their more sozzled compatriots, the word you need is ‘crambazzled’.

Thanks to Susie Dent on Twitter for disinterring this piece of 19th-century Yorkshire dialect for “looking prematurely aged from excess drinking”.

Last night was my last ‘crambazzle’ for a month as I’m doing dry January for the first time. More of that sobering diversion in a moment.

The old year is out on its mean arse and the new one has poked a toe through the door. We spent New Year’s Eve on the sofa, doing a Zoom quiz with friends we would normally be seeing in person. A socially distanced laugh was had, but as a bunch of proud Europeans, we Zoom-mourned our official departure from the EU for a minute or two.

Probably at about around the time the editor of the Daily Express was writing his front-page headline for today – “Our Future. Our Britain. Our Destiny”.

Away from magic Brexit-land, where tattered old slogans float like deflating party balloons over Nigel Farage’s overflowing ashtray, plenty of us are still wondering what we’ve got ourselves into.

Still, just when you thought the country had been sold down the river by a right-wing clique who want to put our rights through the monetarist shredder, Boris Johnson is on hand to calm our nerves by celebrating our “amazing” future. It’s a good job that man’s fluid and floaty promises aren’t written on the back of a crumpled copy of the Daily Telegraph, or we’d all be in the shit.

But now I’d like to raise a glass to what I’ll not be drinking. It is for others to say whether I’m in danger of looking ‘crambazzled’. Not from a safe distance would be my hopeful guess.

Some people clearly drink too much, some hardly drink at all, and some drink at the weekends and abstain for four days in a row, glancing over the alcohol-free days for a heartening glimpse of a waiting bottle or two.

Drinking is a treat, cake at the weekends, a notification of cheerful difference. I don’t worry about my drinking, but have been doing it since entering a pub at the age of 17 and now I’m 64.

I’ll be happy when February shuffles along and will drink a celebratory pint in our local bar. That’s if the lovely little refuge is open again by then.

Here’s hoping for a better year than the dispiriting stretch of days that assembled themselves into 2020.  Today is a hinge between what’s gone and what is to come, and we need the hinge to swing in our favour right now.

Happy New Year to friends seen and unseen; to those lost in lockdown and to those who still insist Covid-19 is a plot and some elaborate put-up job by a controlling state. We are, as the cliché of the age puts it, all in this together, even if some us of us won’t stop arguing about what this is or why we’re in it.

Here’s wishing every member of the quarrelling congregation has a better one in 2021.

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