Do Your Worst, 2015, I Dare You

Christopher Fowler
IMG_4144 I hope you all found suitably cheery ways to launch yourselves into the new year. We hit the chilly streets of Barcelona (where even the local vegetable store was mixing cocktails and people on street corners were selling bottles of champagne) not realising that it's customary to wear evening dress for the occasion or at the very least a bow-tie, and we therefore arrived at our destination, Ocana in Placa Reial,underdressed for once. At least we avoided Boris's big 'Everyone must pay extra for enjoying themselves' approach to the festivities in London. One of the big differences here is in the huge number of children you see in Mediterranean cities. The anklebiters and their entire families are out on the streets, not at Playstations but playing for real, and it's always an uplifting sight. A friend of mine in a London cinema actually asked me if there were dwarves in the audience, and I had to point out to her that they were kids. It was a year of happiness (great travels, hard work, good times) and sadness (lost friends, illnesses), two new books, a raft of projects to come including the 12th Bryant & May mystery, the thriller 'The Sand Men' in late summer, followed by another thriller, a comedy-drama, a new mystery and some surprises. My ambivalent attitude to my city of birth never changes but grows ever more polarised. I love many of the improvements made in it, and hate the cash-grab our Mayor is stealthily managing while playing up his image of a Latin-spouting nitwit - not all of us are fooled, Boris. London refuses to see through its good ideas and never learns better ones from its neighbours.
One of the most famous programmes London could learn from is Barcelona's "100 projects" — a series of small-scale improvements to public spaces designed to give identity to neighbourhoods, so that people could begin to feel pride in where they lived. The political landscape is an equally polarised mess, with no-hope one-policy parties panicking the only two leaders with a chance of election into poll-driven lunacies. I'd like to see London reconnect with the rest of the country in 2015 and embrace Europe, where so much can be learned but from where only bad (and badly written) reports emerge, to be published in the tutting panic-rags. Well, we all have things we'd like to change about our countries and cities. The big change for me this year has been seeing so many of my friends forced out of London by soaring prices, leaving it a land of entitled trustafarians and blank-faced investors. I grew up in a time of grass-roots activism and creativity; surely the wheel will turn again. There should be no poverty in one of the richest nations in the world, and any politician not directly addressing this should be ashamed. Time is precious - make it matter. Here's to an amazing 2015. image    
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Bride of the B… (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 10:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year Mr Fowler!

Jo W (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 11:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here's to 2015! A Happy and Peaceful New Year to all Admin's readers,wherever they may be. As for 2014, having looked that problem squarely in the face,I will go on,glass in hand,to see if 2015 can do better. 😉

Wayne Mook (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 15:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year, my home time is in flux again, Manchester has never really been one for standing still but I mean to be more involved, I may even join facebook. Last year I finally got a kindle and my biggest fear came true. My list of books to read has grown horrifically, what do call the books to read on a kindle, a queue of books? My to read stack is actually several bookcases, I dare not look under the bed at the boxes of books. So now I have a to read queue to add, will it stop me getting books, no.


Mim (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 15:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year!

Don't be too down on London, it's one of the few places in the country where UKIP can't get a toehold...

Vivienne (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 15:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year to all. Been going to London's fireworks for a long time, so decided to cough up this year to see how dire or better it would be. (Although I do feel guilty about this) Well, the fireworks were great, just stunning, but the crowd control was too heavy handed on the going home front, and a bit panicky on entry. I wish the powers that be would have faith in us Londoners and our visiting guests - we're really quite civilised.

Helen Martin (not verified) Thu, 01/01/2015 - 18:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The whole "buy a ticket or stay home" thing was all about crowd control. We watched Reykjavik's "unsynchronised" fireworks and the Man of the House says he'll happily go there. Everyone in Iceland's capital buys fireworks (part of price funds the search and rescue service) and then let them off around midnight. Icelandnaturally.com live streams it and that went on for an hour fwooshing up from all over the city. Talk about public participation! Apparently it's pretty rowdy.

Keith (not verified) Sat, 03/01/2015 - 21:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year Chris! I just finished Nyctophobia, and it sure was the one to read over Christmas. Brilliant. May you continue this year to bring us more of your very best!

Fiona (not verified) Sat, 03/01/2015 - 23:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year! I can recommend St Ives in Cornwall for New Year. The tradition is for people to dress up in fancy dress - for Americans that means costumes not black-tie/ballgown - and there are fireworks. My brother and his wife went this year and had a great time. I recommend eating out in a restaurant first, it is more pricey but you have a table for the evening and keep out of the cold for most of the night. They were in the The Alba and had a good meal (it's on the harbour front). They said there were loads of fantastic costumes and a group of drummers were making their way around the town in a circle entertaining everyone. It was their best New Year so far.

Steve (not verified) Wed, 07/01/2015 - 23:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A bit late, but Happy 2015 to everyone.

My wife and I watched the fireworks at the Seattle Space Needle on TV. Plate of meats, cheese and crackers; bottle of sparkling white grape juice. We exchanged gifts on New Year's Eve (as well as at Christmas Eve) - it's a family tradition that I invented this year. Well technically last year. In any case it was peaceful and wonderful.

Jeanette (not verified) Thu, 08/01/2015 - 18:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Happy New Year Mr Fowler and to all of us peculiars. Looking forward to all the new releases. Went to the Silver Coast of Portugal for New Year.Such a different new year to one I have ever experienced. New years eve day walk along the beach front with blue skies, beautiful sea but the peaceful relaxed atmosphere will stay with me. Lovely Portugese people.