It is inconceivable these days, but many years ago, there was a public house in Oxford which had a bar, where women were not allowed. It had been outlawed by the time I worked there at my first full time job, some years after the 1970s sex discrimination acts.
Old men would still come in for their halves of bitter, complain when the price went up above fifty pence, smoke their exotic smelling tobacco from pipes and compete with each other, to see who could complete The Times crossword in the shortest possible time.
Some would talk reverentially of the days when only men would be allowed in the dark wooden paneled back bar. One of those old men still has his photograph on the wall in that bar today, more than thirty years on. He said to me as he was packing up to go home, one New Year's Eve afternoon in the 1980s that of course, "it's already been celebrated in New Zealand, as they are twelve hours ahead."
For me, New Year's Eve has always been something of a nebulous concept, marking as it does this point in time, already marked elsewhere in the world and still to come in other time zones and being something non specific and secular in nature, after the celebration of Christmas a week before.
Historically, I've never had any objection to working on a bank holiday. I will still be doing it this New Year's Eve, plying for hire and undertaking prebooked work, driving people fairly long distances to other local businesses like hotels and restaurants, to mark the ticking of the clock from one second to the next.
Working on New Year's Eve, when there is an enhanced tariff in operation, is pretty much essential for the driver who is trying to earn a living from taxi driving, coming as it does at the end of the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, with its plethora of bank holidays, when the entire trade declines by as much as forty to fifty percent.
Chatting with some new drivers recently, they thought it marvelous that there was so much work around in the run up to Christmas. I did warn them that after New Year's Eve, night time trade does decline markedly in January and doesn't start picking up again until March.
The reality is that since the demise of the town's one remaining night club, the night time economy in Abingdon has been slowly ebbing away. With the glut of chancers issued licences like confetti by the council who go to work as private hire in Oxford during the week and work the Abingdon rank at the weekend, there is little hope for making a living from working at night. But I carry on, because it is my livelihood and I have to.
Happy New Year.