New Year at the Pole. January 1st, 2019

Somewhat surprisingly, nine of us turned up to celebrate the beginning of 2019 – even though I’d done my best in promoting the event to confuse people and to suggest that it would be a foolhardy mission.

Well, - apart from myself, of course – seven hardy fools from EFOG attended, and even my friend Sue who isn’t even an EFOG member. Most of us assembled – eventually – in the designated meeting-place at some time around or after 11pm and after ascertaining that the couple whom we had been waiting for were ascending from an alternative starting point, we began the long and dark haul uphill to reach the summit.

Pole Hill is something like 300ft A.S.L, and our starting point was just 200ft. Rudimentary mathematics (of which I am not part, nor do partake, nor am particular to) would indicate (apparently) that we had a 100ft climb ahead of us, which in non-brexit terminology (note the small ‘b’) is 30.48 metres. This – by the way – is an unlit and un-signposted route, and as at least two of our party had neglected (forgotten) to bring their obligatory torches was accomplished with – surprisingly – no incidents apart from slightly muddy footwear.

We reached the Pole after about 15 minutes of almost totally non-arduous uphilling, to find that it was still dark, not yet midnight, and still 2018. We also found the two rebel go-it-alone-from-another-starting-place EFOG members. Kathy and Brian’s names will not be mentioned.

There were other – less definable – persons up there already. We had been beaten to the Pole. There was also at least one dog. It was possible to make out London in the distance to the south-west, and with the help of a pair of binoculars even to see the London Eye, 10.5 miles away.

Although two other EFOG members who had proposed to come hadn’t been able to, Lynne had brought some mulled wine along, so – even without Pam’s intended contribution – we were able to have a pre-2019 celebratory drink, and I was forced to give my traditional rendering of ‘The Owl’.

And then one of the by-then multiplicity of shadowy figures that had assembled began a countdown to 24.00, or 00.00, or 2019. Naturally, with somebody going “ten, nine, eight...” etc. nearby, it was impossible to hear the chimes of Big Ben ten miles away. Still, we all cheered and said “Happy New Year”, and shook hands and hugged and kissed and that, and of course that led to fireworks.

efog fireworks pole hill 2019artFireworks at New Year, viewed from Pole Hill (but not this year's photo)

Probably Chingford and Stewardstone are in mourning or suffering from economic depression, or just depression or S.A.D., which is sad, because compared to previous years I would say that there were less local fireworks. But then think of the environment! However, the display that we could see from around Westminster, and other places, was sufficient for us to realise that an event had or was taking place.

After standing around a bit, wondering what to do next, I made a walk-leader’s decision (somewhat based on others’ suggestions and the fact that others were deserting the Pole anyway) that we should attempt to find our way down. I have always found that going down is harder than going up (I’m talking about hills here, not psychology), but the going was firm, and our route took us to where we needed to go. That is, back to our cars, or in the case of Sue and I (with a little help from Amina who gave us a lift to the bus-station) to our buses.

You don’t have to pay on the buses on this particular night – which is a bit of a let-down if you don’t have to anyway – but on the other hand at coming up to one o’clock in the morning buses aren’t that frequent, though we managed to get two late and Happy New Year’y buses to Wanstead. That’s fine for Sue, who lives there, but there are no buses from Wanstead to Manor Park, so a bit more walking was involved for me. Luckily, the night was mild, and even though cloudy there was enough light to see by. The walk across Wanstead Flats at 1.30 in the morning was without incident and I arrived home to find it was 2019 and not quite 2am.

Paul Ferris, 1st January 2019

Paul, Sue, Amina, Parviz, Lynne, Ken, Diana, Kathy, Brian.