Tuesday 31 December
I can’t honestly remember the last time I had a decent New Years Eve. The onus and pressure we put on ourselves to find the best situation possible for ten seconds is astounding. I think it’s getting worse as we get older, and much like Christmas, it’s really one for the kids. It was more exciting being allowed to stay awake and have a thimble-full of Babycham. Every year I try to play it down, yet every year I’m breaking out in a feverish sweat at the prospect of a nightmarish scenario where I’m not hooking up with Jennifer Lawrence on the top deck of a yacht at the stroke of twelve to the visual delight of billions of Euros of fireworks, while Elvis sings us a private rendition of Auld Lang Syne. I remember one year I was alone in a cellar changing a barrel of beer. One year I made out with a dude. One year I walked a girl home and she locked me out and waved at me. And one year I cried the whole night and smashed my apartment up. I was on drugs. For medicinal purposes I assure you. This year I’m in Belgrade watching Serbia’s most famous pop star and Mafia king-pin play to thousands of crazed fans. What could possibly go wrong?
Svetlana Ražnatović is something of a household name in these parts. Going by her stage name Ceca (pronounced Set-Sa, and not the Civil Engineering Contractors Association), in 1993 she traveled to the front to entertain the troops, where she met her career criminal husband and leader of notorious paramilitary forces. Following his shooting in 2000, she’s had her finger in many pies, including guns, drugs, embezzlement of funds, shady football dealings, and violent criminal behaviour. She’s managed to buy her way out of lengthy prison sentences with millions of Euros. Oh and she’s number one ear bleeder…I mean turbo folk singer… in all of Serbia. Hiding in plain sight, crime clearly pays, and it pays well.
So here we are listening to her screech her way through her back catalogue, with a few minutes until the bells. The square is rammed to the brim with wild Serbs, singing every word. We can’t get near the stage to see her and her horrible fake boobs, so we grab some beers and await the countdown. Which just like last year doesn’t come, and all of a sudden it’s 2014. We don’t hang around long and dash through the streets wishing as many people Happy New Year as we can in ten seconds. Nobody wants to give me a hug, people are freaking out, and a finger wagging Serbian man tells me off that this isn’t their custom. Thank goodness the night picks up at the warehouse club we find ourselves in.
After several beers I’m somehow swinging a cute Slovenian girl around and the room is spinning. I’ve got another girl following me about trying to lift my kilt with her boyfriend in tow, and I don’t even know my own name. By the time I make it home, I’ve had one of the best New Years Eves in living memory. Except for that time I did heroin with those hookers in Dubai.
Happy New Year to you and yours, dearest readers. I hope this one is filled with peace, love and…scratch that…sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. You deserve it you cheeky things you. Here’s to 2014. Let’s make it a good one.