The first hint that it is New Year’s Eve comes when walking up the avenues in New York. Out of nowhere new street hawkers have appeared to sell plastic tat – glasses in the shape of 2013 that light up, sparkly hats and noisy whistles. It makes a change from the usual sellers of woolly hats, unsafe children’s toys and a bizarre line in fake ivory ornaments. Lots of local restaurants and bars invite you to come to their party with no ‘cover charge’. Lots of shops shut early. It’s cold but clear, so a good night for fireworks. We have a good high up view, so we looked for some and were disappointed to see very few in the distance. We surfed the channels looking for New Year’s with Ryan Seacrest (ABC, I think). In London we would watch either BBC or ITV to see the enormous crowds along the north side of the Thames, opposite the London Eye, waiting for midnight. It’s near Big Ben, so it tells the crowds when midnight has arrived. The fireworks are spectacular on the Eye, on the Thames and on the South Bank. Here in NYC crowds gather from midday at Time Square and surrounding avenues – you can’t get on to 7th Avenue at 5pm without a ticket, so a long way round to get the subway home for R. On TV it looks impressive, masses of people, lots of excitement. Although the ad breaks every five minutes or so and the constant Weightwatchers references (I presume they sponsor it) is incredibly distracting. You kind of have to watch it live, so trusty Tivo and the time lapse are no good here. And what are they waiting for? The ball to drop. Yep, it’s a ball on Times Square, high up and it’s lit up and at midnight it drops. That’s it. Give me Big Ben any day.