Just watching the BBC News Channel. They’re previewing the midnight fireworks from Embankment in London.
Took me back to the night I was on that job.
I *think* it would have been NYE 2000 into 2001 <*> but I’m not 100% certain. Not really important. The Millennium Wheel was in place, though.
We set up on Embankment overlooking the Wheel: me (on camera) an engineer in the truck, a producer and a correspondent from News 24, as it was still called back then.
We did an insert into the 8 o’clock sequence, and of course as soon as the lights went on we became a magnet for every drunken idiot in a quarter mile radius. They capered behind the reporter; they shouted (slurred) insults and rude suggestions and one came right up and gurned into my lens. I actually reached round and hauled him out of the shot by his collar, which was probably not wise but I got away with it.
After we came off air and got rid of the morons we got a phone call from the correspondent who was due to do the Network news at 10. “Get that sorted out or I’m not coming”
We moved position slightly to get the correspondent into a defensible right angle in the parapet and chatted up a couple of cops who agreed to pass by at the top of the hours. The 9, 10 (with the Network reporter) and 11 went off without any further trouble and we came to midnight.
Quite a long piece, and as we were doing it I noticed a few blokes hanging around just out of shot. They were quite clearly as pissed as newts, glazed eyes and swaying slightly but not actually making any trouble. They waited until the lights went off then stumbled across and gave each and everyone of us a hug and a handshake and wished us, in thick Slavic accents, a very happy New Year. Then they happily weaved off into the distance, presumably to spread good cheer to anyone else they could find.
And that, I realised with some regret, was the difference between the pissed Englishman and the pissed Slav.
Happy New Year, everyone
<*> PS, do you want my tired rant on when the 20th Century *actually* ended? Thought not