ken writes: Happy New Year! I like New Year’s Eve very much. I’m going to sip (possibly sup, we’ll see how it goes) on some of my new favourite whiskey and try to say why (the whiskey is a peated Irish whiskey, called ‘Connemara’ although it is made in Cooley, County Louth by the Cooley distillery -peatiness is characteristic of scotch but not Irish whiskey, which is weird given how much peat there is in Ireland).
One of the appalling things about academia is how many ‘love miles’ you build up, that is the number of miles between you and the friends you pick up throughout the world as you go from college to college to study and then to work. It’s not so difficult making new friends in new places, and I am really fond of the friends Dot and I have made in Dublin. But I don’t unmake friends if I can help it. That means I’ve still got the ones from St Andrews, York, and Sheffield (UK), Philadelphia (USA), Bensheim (Germany), Auckland, Hamilton (NZ) to think about as well as those of them who have moved to other places too. And relatives. One day’s not enough time to do it in, but we dignify the bonds of friendship even with a small gesture.
Marking the passing of the year is a gesture of respect to one’s own self too. It’s good to divide our lives into what’s done and what’s to come, since if you just take each day as it comes you can’t plan for the future and so have less control of the circumstances that present themselves to you. But if it’s good to contemplate the past and the future on one occasion, it’s better to do it on many. The annual ritual enshrines this beneficial self-reflection.