I’m sorry to have to admit to this but at eleven thirty this morning Guido and I were still in bed with the duvet pulled up over our heads. The bedroom roller blind was pulled down. And when I say, the bedroom roller blind was pulled down, what I really mean is that it was hanging at the kind of precarious and twisted angle that only a drunk man like me could have possibly achieved. I vaguely remembered having an awfully involved argument with the cords attached to it seconds before I dived head first onto our bed. I also seem to recall a noisy bong! pow! zing! sound as I hit the mattress springs. I found that highly amusing at the time but at eleven thirty this morning I can guarantee you I wasn’t laughing. In fact I wasn’t doing anything much at all. It seemed like a gargantuan effort just to simply open one eye.
I knew I was still alive because I could feel a throbbing sensation (only not in a good way) across the bridge of my nose. I sat up and felt all over my head. Thankfully it was where I had left it the day before, i.e. still attached to my body.
“Oh God,” I croaked pathetically. “I’ve yet to meet anybody who’s ever jumped up out of bed in the morning after a night on the town who’s said – Gee I really wish I’d had another drink last night, wouldn’t that be a terrific idea.”
I closed my left eye again but even in the semi mid morning light I could tell Guido was worryingly upright in a perky sort of way. Let’s call it a sixth sense of mine. Fortunately I was relieved I couldn’t smell any trace of mayo.
“Did you know that tomorrow night,” Guido said, “the ten-second countdown to New Year 2017 is actually going take 11 seconds?”
“Do what?” I said blinking back into focus.
I’m sure you’ll agree this sounded like the start of a completely riveting conversation but if I’m honest all I was thinking about was when my husband might get up and cook me some breakfast. I thought tentatively about whether to have hot buttered wholemeal toast or a griddled muffin and if my eggs should be scrambled or fried over easy, just how I like them.
“A leap second is to be inserted into the world’s time standard and, technically,” he explained, “midnight tomorrow will actually happen twice.”
There was a long pause.
“Okay, decision made, I’ll have them scrambled on wholemeal,” I said decisively.
There was another long pause for obvious reasons.
“Leap seconds happen because the Earth’s turn is slowing.” Guido ploughed on regardless of my breakfast order. “Every year astronomers work out how much we have slowed and if necessary whether they need to insert one.”
So there you have it folks. Tomorrow when you’ re toasting in 2017 just think of me and Guido sitting here up in the loft at midnight London time with a bottle of Moet and Chandon and his stop watch.
If it’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that every second of this precious life of ours counts, even if it is only long enough to pop a cork. So wherever you are, remember to use yours wisely.
Have a Happy New Year everybody.