It’s hard to believe that 2013 is gone and 2014 is lining up, all guns blazing, ready to see what we’re made of. It seems like only last week that I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii ringing in 2013 with my good friends D&S. Apart from a few other adventurous souls who had braved the dark to check out the fireworks at the neighbouring resorts, we had the beach to ourselves. The year that followed this relatively modest celebration was one that derailed on occasion and gave me more than a few moments of angst. Yet looking back on it, everything was as it should be and had I to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing… at least not anything that I can think of right now. What happened, happened, and all for just cause and reason.
In contrast, this week I rang in 2014 in the company of 461 others at a black-tie event in the west of Ireland. My fellow revellers, aged 18 to 80, looked to be having just as a good a time as I was. And apart from a few young ones mistaking me for their mate’s mother, and passing comments on how lovely it was to see ‘ould wans’ like us having a good time, I felt like Cinderella, with my very own Prince Charming but without the midnight curfew or pumpkin issue.
There’s something rather lovely about dressing formally – I love the whole black tie, long dress, evening gloves, and cufflinks scene. I must have lived a past life where this sort of thing was as normal as breathing. While I feel completely at home in a long dress, and know my way around the cutlery, I was a little taken aback about how uncomfortable a few of the younger people looked and behaved. Teetering on impossibly high heels, openly pulling and tugging at corsets and bras as they walked across the room, and slamming back jaeger bombs, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at what I see as a marked decline in something that I’m struggling to name.
It’s not quite propriety; neither is it social grace. It’s not etiquette or manners… it’s something more intangible, like … style? Yet some of them looked drop-dead gorgeous standing still and silent. But when they moved or opened their mouths, the illusion of dignity was shattered. Perhaps it’s decorum? Or plain old-fashioned self-awareness? The age spread in the room definitely heightened the contrast in behaviour and while I’m well aware that two swallows don’t make a spring, I’m still left with that feeling of loss that there’s a generation of young people out there who simply don’t know how to behave in a given situation. Does this make me old or even old-fashioned? Am I preaching? Self-righteous? Perhaps.
Anyone have a time machine handy?