For the last twenty five years or more New Year's Eve has meant the Wych Elm. There had often been a few other pubs along the way but come the witching hour that is where I would be.
There were good reasons for that; the Wych was my local for a lot of that time (when I lived in Kings Road in North Kingston) and as it was the landlord's (Manny's) birthday on 1 January there was always a late party, even before the time Tony Blair allowed such things.
I moved away from the area but the Wych remained the best option and then, in 2014, Manny finally retired from the pub and there was no longer any reason to go there and I was struggling to think to anywhere else that could be a lively and as friendly.
In the end I decided to give the Fox and Duck in Petersham a go, mostly because they had a live band on, namely Bungles Finger. I was happy to treat the evening like a normal Saturday night there with a band I liked.
It was much better than that.
Bungles Finger did the pub proud and it was good to hear the first half of their set for the first time, on two previous visits to see them I had only seen the second half due to other commitments.
The pub was as lively and as friendly as I hoped and in addition to the good music I had lots of conversations, mostly with new people prompted by unexpected connections brought up by Facebook.
We may not have got on the floor and rowed to Oops Upside Your Head but I am not sure that I want to do that anymore. Instead it was a good night in a good pub with good people and good music; a good way to end one year and start another.