New Year's Eve 2005

Well, after getting well and truly stuffed on a pile of food at home, I spent new year's eve this year doing much the same as two years ago by going in to London to watch the fireworks display by the London Eye - this time with my girlfriend Fiona.

We were unaffected by the tube strikes as we could just catch the train into Victoria, walk to the display, and then get a train back home from Victoria (which, we were impressed to discover, kept running for 5 hours later than usual). From what I read, the tube strike had little impact anyway. I haven't read any serious analysis over the dispute, other than that it involves possible changes to the working practises of station staff, so I'm unsure what to make of it all. Annie Mole at the London Underground Tube Diary certainly seems to have gotten into a bit of a strop about it all.

It didn't take us long to walk down to Westminster, and we ended up standing midway along the bridge to watch the fireworks, which gave us a great view. The London Eye was lit up fantastically, with images and a countdown clock being projected onto the building by Jubilee Gardens. The immense crowd was in good spirits (bar the occassional group of drunken louts) and the 10 second countdown was deafening. Then followed ten minutes of spectacular fireworks - with moments where the sky was ablaze with golden sparks, and the London Eye itself forming a giant Catherine Wheel.

Getting out was a bit of a struggle, taking half an hour to get off the bridge, with an uncomfortable ten minutes of not moving and having to stand ground against the idiots trying to force their way through the crowd (why oh why?). Being in a huge crowd (which news reports numbered at 200,000) is weird - as long as you accept that you can't move any faster than the crowd allows, have patience, and stay calm, it's suprisingly unstressful. There were plenty of people around us who were over-analysing the situation, desperate to find out what the hold up was for, theorising over what the bottleneck was. But being in a crowd is in many ways about losing your individual thoughts to the collective consciousness of the crowd.

Once out of the crush, we made it to Victoria fairly quickly, and were soon at home, in bed, in the warmth. A great night out, and a great way to see in the new year...