1st January 2014! A very happy new year to all Mortal Bath readers using the CE calendar.

It’s nice to be living in the future. 2014 sounds very advanced. Well, it does to me and all the other remnants of the 20th century I know/meet/am aware of. This used to be the near-distant future. I suppose that’s 2036 now. This year I think I will have quite a lot to say about cultural hangovers, and I apologise now for what may be the first of 10,500 references to temporal equivalence and nostalgia during the solar sojourn. “This is like people in the 1980s banging on about the 1960s,” sort of thing. I was 19 in 1994 – insert the 20-year cycle of your own experience.

Lots to do, lots to write about, lots to get on with. It would be – here’s one thing I’ve learned – foolish, a repeating history doom, to make the usual start-of-year manifesto claims, the sorts that leave one high and dry and looking only semi-dedicated in July. However, I am happy to note that this was the first second new year’s day in my recent memory that I wasn’t nursing some sort of monster hangover of fear… and the day was very productive… ending in Triumphs 3 Disasters 0: glass of wine, take-away curry treat and the grand return of Sherlock on the BBC. Sherlock will feature in The Mortal Bath next week.

But THIS week… well, here’s one of the presents Santa’s little helpers left under the tree:

S-book cover

The idea of S., J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s tribute to the printed word, had me dribbling from the moment I first read about it somewhere, I forget precisely where, probably Boing Boing. Regular readers of the Mortal Bath will be aware of my bibliophilia and a fannish admiration of Abrams’ work. What I’ve seen of Dorst’s work seems appealing also. Happily, regarding the book, the fat man in the red suit obliged…

I have yet to read the text, busy with some Xmas hols library books what I shall mention at a later date. It may prove to be a bit of a disappointment, but… O! The excitement as I slit the cover tape and had a reverent moment handling the Object.

Made up to look like a library book!

Made up to look like a library book!

Napkin map inserts!

Napkin map inserts!

Annotations and postcards!

Annotations and postcards!

Dear me. Reader, I combusted.

Thusly… that’s what’ll be keeping me occupied this first week in January 2014 (claps hands with excitement). Hope you have something pleasant to be getting on with also.

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It had been my intention to write a New Year post riddled with complaint.

A cynical diatribe about the illusions of time passing, prompted by ludicrous headline assertions such as there only being “24 hours left to stop America falling off a fiscal cliff”, a ludicrous arbitrary line in the imaginary sand at the base of a metaphorical promontory.

I had been irked by billboard adverts, following the moustachio’d lead of “Movember”, for “Dryathlon”, in which one avoids alcohol in January to benefit Cancer Research UK, or “Rock up in red”, wearing red clothing to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in February. Far from putting the fun into fundraising, these seemed terrible contrivances, reminding me of Starbucks’s Christmas “Red cups” faux-tradition. Indicative of some vindictive demiurge’s efforts to box us into a tightly-controlled calendar of ever-drearier predictability. Round and round, locked in.

On the Hogmanay broadcasts, there was a couple interviewed by the BBC at the riverside in London. They had made a special effort to get to the barrier, having witnessed it all from the back of the crush in 2011. Returned for their moment in the front row. In front of a forest of arms bearing digital cameras and phones recording, the ubiquitous little glowing antennae of self-reflexivity, mediating everyone’s moments.

We’re over a tenth of the way through this century, and it’s just going round and round in circles! Patting itself on the back for watching Gangnam Style billions of times. We might have done better by the Mayans by looking at the way their calendars were organised, instead of fabricating prophetic warnings of doom. Why can’t we have a Long Count? Maybe we’d act with more circumspection if we factored in what was going to happen in five thousand years. “As the oceans thickened, they did what?”

Or perhaps it’d be better if we knew we were time limited, like Mayflies, and had to get about our business with more of a sense of urgency.

Such misery! Such abstractions! The like of which might be prompted by a new year vin triste or something.

So no, I thought. Bollocks to all that. Happy new year! It’s nice and sunny out, here, this morning.

2013 has much more of a future love paradise sound about it than 2012 anyway. I think it’s the 3.

Have a good time, all the time…

The Proclaimers once sang that ‘the question doesn’t matter, the answer’s always “AYE”…’ It can similarly be suggested that the number of the year is not important, or even relevant, really, except for appointment purposes: it is always NOW, with all the urgency and opportunity for immediate action that the word suggests.

I note this because the last couple of weeks has seen the usual new year string of strongly-worded and idiotic letters and comment to papers, chat rooms and so on about how this is not the first year of the second decade of the 2000s, or that it is the 10th year of the twentieth century, and that Jesus was not born in the year 0, and how we perhaps should never have abandoned the Julian calendar anyway.

The year 1990 was not in the 1980s. (I understand someone commenting on the Guardian’s website made a similar point invoking Italia 90, the ‘best world cup tourney of the 1980s’, but I’m having to go on Mr Breeze’s say so and can’t be faffed finding the link).

So happy new year, happy new decade, if you’re on Western time, and farewell to the opening salvo of the 20th century. 2000-2009, if I look back to all the gleeful anticipation of the millennium – another step along the timeline from barbed wire and carnage, a bit closer to the silver jumpsuits and floating cars, perhaps – was a bit of a fucking disaster as far as enjoying the moment was concerned.

Anyway, that was then… 2010, the year we make contact. Or the twonty-throos, as they must officially be termed.