105. The Black Cat Bones

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My favourite New Year’s Eve bash was in 2006, in a suburban Chelmsford scout hall.

A very communal affair. We knew lots of people in Old Moulsham at the time, and the end-of-year event in St John’s Hall, Vicarage Road had become a reliable way to have an enjoyable knees up with friends away from the over-crowded pubs.

I was a bad boy that night. Lots to drink, from an early start. A boisterous physical game of some kind that I was playing with Rory and two of his mates ended awkwardly. They decided it was more fun to try and knock the plastic wine cup out of my hand. They were mere 7- year olds, so I told them nicely to please stop this. No good, so I raised my voice. Rory and Oscar took the hint, but the third lad, Thomas George, carried on. So I threw the wine over him in annoyance. Very embarrassing to recall.

Thankfully, his dad laughed, and called it a waste of good alcohol.

I was quickly able to forget. The Black Cat Bones, a local rhythm and blues band, started their gig shortly after. With one of my friends, Jonathan Hammersley, smashing the life out of the drums.

What a raw, dirty, powerful set they played. Very gritty delivery from the singer. You couldn’t help but move around to it. Well I couldn’t. First a measured shuffle of the shoulders and the hips, but several more wines and I was away. Dancing up and out into the stratosphere, probably looking like a mild-mannered dad on heat.

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The highlight was the old Doors (and Status Quo) chestnut ‘Roadhouse Blues’, which echoed off the trestle tables and trophied walls like Morrison and Manzanek themselves were belting it out. I was reliably told afterwards that my uncontrollable lurching around resembled nothing like dancing. But Jeez, it was fun, and eventually the whole hall was up and at it.

Neither Christmas nor New Year usually do much for me. Cannot abide the commerce and advertising, however pleasant the dinner on the 25th.

My ideal end-year celebrations would be a paganistic ritual held on 21-22 December, as the year turns. Every participant tells a story –or their highlight of the year – around a camp fire, as everybody else listens and drinks, or gets high alternatively. Then drumming and dancing the real New Year into being.

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Can’t see it catching on.

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