Durham: You Let Me Down

I’d like to start this by saying I did have a really good night last night. There was lots of alcohol, including a wide variety of cocktails (there is cinnamon whiskey, did you know this? Tasted like Christmas!), some funny conversations, a few drunken accidents (a broken phone being the main casualty; thankfully it wasn’t mine) and then a walk home after realizing it would cost over sixty bloody quid for a taxi. And finally there was watching bizarre television until the early hours of the morning before wiping out and waking up in the afternoon. So yes, I enjoyed myself.

HOWEVER, I can’t help but discuss how damn awful Durham (the town where I was drinking) was last night. I’m aware that it hasn’t got a raving night scene but I was perfectly accepting of this; I’m not a clubber and I’m not trying to take advantage of women who’ve had too much alcohol to make wise decisions. Nevertheless, despite my low standards, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the activities we were offered.

This Wasn't Me
This Wasn’t Me

Why was I unimpressed? Well I’ll tell you.

Nothing Happened At Midnight

I decided early on that once we found a place which we liked (the drinks are cheap and we have a seat being the main factors) we should remain there for as long as possible. So this is what we did. We had cocktail pitchers from half 6 until around half 11, and nobody stole (or even worse; attempted to share) our booth. All was going well.

Then it started getting really busy. And I became uncomfortable. So, knowing that people usually gather up on the green next to Durham Cathedral, I suggested that we should go check it out. We’d get some fresh air, time to think and maybe see some fireworks. Then after that we can head back down and find another bar. It was a risk but I thought it was worth taking.

Well it wasn’t.

Sure, the bells rang out at midnight. But they were also ringing twenty minutes before, and around twenty minutes after, so that really meant nothing to us. And we didn’t even know it was approaching 12:00 until we heard one woman shout out ‘3, 2, 1’. Then there was nothing. A few cheers but that was it. No lights, no fireworks, no music…nothing.

Wow. What the hell is this, Durham? I’ve seen more celebration from people on a Friday night. There wasn’t even any fireworks in the sky, so absolutely nobody in a mile + radius was showing their excitement for the beginning of a new year. A few hugs and kisses and it was over. How amazing.

Everywhere Started Closing Before 2

Now I know not everywhere can be open all night. But I was thinking places would be open until 3, maybe 4 because this is, don’t forget, a special occasion. It’s the new year! Surely some bars will be keeping the party going for a while longer, right?

Well, not in Durham they weren’t. When we returned from the green, most places were already closed. There was about 4 places still going, and the one we headed into started pushing us towards the exit after ten minutes. Then, by the time we got to the first bar we’d visited, they were kicking out everybody too. It wasn’t even two pm yet!

Hmm. At least with all these people outside we might have a few cheerful conversations on our way home. The night isn’t over just yet!

Unsocial Drinkers

It was.

All of these people were drunk, and happy, and chatty…but only with themselves. There was no friendly conversations or singing; anything you’d associate with new year celebrations were totally absent. I’ve already noticed how Durhamers (new term I’ve just coined) don’t like to make eye contact or give you any acknowledgement when they pass you, but I assumed this phenomenon would be different on a night out. I’m not really a social person but I do quite enjoy the spontaneous conversations you can sometimes have.

Not tonight though. Oh no. Hundreds of people around, but the streets may as well have been deserted. The only conversation we had last night was with a taxi driver, and he was hardly a happy chap: no the harbinger of bad news with his warning of it being double time, and thus double fares, was too busy trying to get his money from us straight away to ask if we’d had a good night. The only consolation was that he told us as we entered the cab. I don’t think I’d have been too happy to see the meter at the end of that journey. So instead of selling our organs to cover the cost of a taxi ride, we walked home.


Like I said at the beginning, it was a good night. I’m glad I went out, and as I returned with everything safely intact, I consider it to have been a successful drinking session.

But Durham…Durham was poor. I won’t be bothering with it again.

…Well, I probably will. It’s only ten minutes away. Location location location is what they say. Sure, it might be boring but when you can get home without breaking sweat I don’t think you can complain.

Next year though, I think I’ll go somewhere else. Somewhere with fireworks. And maybe Sparklers too…


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