What follows is by way of explanation for possible observers of an annual phenomenon.

JB sat in his chair one New Year’s Eve as the minutes ticked closer to another beat of the 1980s, surrounded by family and their their “young adult” friends, already well lubricated after a few hours of merriment. If you wanted to laugh until it hurt, this was the house to be in. As distant church bells started to greet the new year, we (for this is my family and I was there) heard a commotion outside in the street, vulgar language from some people who had obviously over-lubricated.

Leaning forward and raising himself from the chair like Old Man Time himself, JB made for the front door, proclaiming to all with a scowl: “I’ll teach them to shout obscenities up and down the street”. Anticipating a confrontation or some entertainment, or both, the family and guests followed JB out the door. The rowdy revellers had already drifted away on the road facing our house (it’s a T-junction outside) and as JB stepped through the low front gate by the lawn he suddenly turned sharply right to face up the street, raised his hands to his mouth like a megaphone and roared:


Then doing a quick 180 degree about-face he repeated this cry down the street, turned back to the gate while muttering “that’s how it’s done” and walked back into the house, grinning with the New Year bells echoing in the night air, past his audience now laid low by uproars of laughter, tears running down their faces.

The following year, recalling his previous year’s performance, the gathered guests repeated the Play in One Act to great amusement and acclaim. It was repeated on many New Year’s since, maybe without as much panache, but it was still a favourite joke we’d share around this time of year.

Time moved on, friends followed their paths in life that took them to far away places, and the end-of-year parties at that house settled down to being just some hot sausages, beer and watching the countdown on the television, and some quick phone calls to wish everyone well and perhaps say “obscenities” to get a chuckle.

JB passed away in 2010, and the following New Year’s Eve on the stroke of midnight outside a few houses around the city and environs one would have observed someone shouting “obscenities” up and down the street, in a bizarre but moving tribute.

This year, approaching 2018, I received a call from 1500 kilometres away shortly after midnight (in their time zone): “Obscenities!” Meanwhile, JB’s grandchildren were away at their own parties and even though they were not around when the original performance took place, they gave a quick rendition. As did I, outside my home with the rain coming down, possibly to the amusement of some bewildered neighbours.

And that, as JB would say, is how it’s done.

Categorised as: LUE

Comment Free Zone

Comments are closed.