Go on then - one more!

New Year's may not be everything it's cracked up to be, but Gayle argues it is still a good old knees-up and a fine way to see in 2007.

HALFWAY through the annual festive endurance test, we leave the goodwill and gift-giving behind us in a welter of turkey carcases, pine needles and torn up wrapping paper and try to summon up a spark of optimism and energy for the New Year.

If Christmas is a feast of over-eating, celebrated with recipes, schedules for everything from stirring the Christmas pudding mix to timing the turkey, and tips on how to provide a Christmas dinner for a horde of hungry relatives without ending up as frizzled as an over-cooked oven roast, then New Year is the time for drunkenness, the newspapers full of hangover cures and suggestions for pacing yourself as the drinks flow freely towards midnight.

Doomed to failure, in most cases.

Yes, it's all very well to start off by drinking milk before leaving the house (to line your stomach) and vow to alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water but, unless you are the designated driver or forced to drive yourself home, it probably won't be long before the still, small voice of reason is drowned in a rising tide of tipsy merriment.

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As Rudyard Kipling almost said: 'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on booze, your friends will all get stinking drunk without you - you might as well enjoy it as refuse.'

So we gird our loins for the New Year's Eve party, which probably isn't the wild extravaganza we imagined it might be, so a few drinks are pretty much essential to make the conversation sparkle, and wreathe the other guests (and ourselves) with a spurious glamour.

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It's a chance to dress up in glitter, to paint on dark eyes and bright lips (and that's just the men!) and pretend to walk on the wild side for a few hours.

For one night only, we see the door to the future opening, and imagine we have the chance to wipe the slate clean, shake off the troubles and burdens of the past and stride forward into a clear-eyed dawn.

Until, that is, we face the actual dawn, which may well involve a blinding headache, dehydration, spangles lodged in inaccessible crevices - and a horrid suspicion that we did and said things last night that are best forgotten.

But it was worth it to see in the New Year in fine style. If Christmas is for the family, New Year is for oneself; a chance to be larger than life, to be reckless and to laugh at the unknown fate that lies in the unfolding months ahead.

And for 2007, I would like to wish all our readers: May your troubles in the coming year be as short-lived as your resolutions!

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