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Birmingham celebrates New Year; It was a night for celebration and compassion. Neil Connor joined the thousands in Birmingham's Millennium Point as they welcomed in the new year and mourned the end of 2004.

Byline: Neil Connor

From left, Emma Blakeway, Hana Jadayel, Gabi Willis (all aged 14), Chloe Large and Hannah Thompson (both 15) enjoy the fun at Millennium Point

Above, Joseph Hyett, aged three, with dad, also called Joseph. Below, Ken Evans shares a joke with friends at Millennium Point

Left, Debbie and Julie Giles enjoy the hair-raising funfair at Millennium Point. Above, Andy Jones, Ian Fahey, Ian Bellis and Paul Sarjant in Brindleyplace

They had gathered at Millennium Point to party-in 2005 but during the festivities there was sadness at the South Asia tragedy that marred the last days of 2004.

A sombre poignancy descended over Millennium Point at 11pm as a one-minute silence was held for the tsunami victims.

Everyone who spoke to The Birmingham Post said the city council-arranged event had provided a fitting response to the disaster which has cast a global shadow over the festive period.

However, it was also acknowledged by revellers that apart from giving to charity, there was little else the people of Birmingham could do directly for the victims. 'You might as well go out because it is such a sad thing that it is sometimes difficult to think about at times,' said Ken Evans, from Acocks Green, Birmingham.

'You can give to charity and you can offer your thoughts, but what else can you do? I am very happy that the council has provided time at this event for people to spare a minute for the victims.

'I do not agree with people who do not want to come to an event like this because there is nothing anyone can have done to prevent such a disaster.'

Ken said he was looking forward to a better year in 2005 and had a few resolutions to keep. Chips in hand, he said he was going to cut down on fatty food.

Agreeing with Ken was Joseph Hyett, from Sutton Coldfield, who was attending the event with his wife Jenny and son, three-year old Joseph.

'I am going to lose my belly in 2005,' he said.

'And the major thing I regret for 2004 is not having the winning lottery ticket.'

Jenny said she was disappointed the children's entertainments had finished at an early stage of the evening, but Joseph Jnr didn't seem to mind as he started to fall asleep.

So there you have it: New Year - a time for reflecting on those big questions in life.

Have I achieved what I wanted to during the course of last year and would I strive to fulfil my objectives for the year ahead? Is the world a better place now than it was on January 1 2004?

Is there hope for more peaceful times ahead?

And finally, for the thousands who had well and truly left their worries at home, would Bananarama have the same powerful live presence that made them at one time the most popular girl band in the 1980s? Even though there are now only two - Keren Woodward and Sarah Dallins - of the original threesome, the absentee being Siobhan Fahey?

(Just for the record, the duo lived up to expectations and have, ahem, certainly aged well!)

All this just a few hours after Angelina Ballerina had strutted her stuff for the young ones and the live screening of Coronation Street made it an 'ecky thump' hour or so.

Of course Angelina Ballerina and the other kids' favourite Barney the Dinosaur was a high point for that portion of the crowd too young to remember and too unconcerned about 1980s pop groups.

As the witching hour approached, that part of the audience was on the way home or looking forward to a blissful night's rest and the end of a year they, perhaps fortunately, will not fully comprehend.

CAPTION(S):

Brum gets balance right for New Year Hirra Ahmed, Puja Majithia, Hemma Ashta and Neha Desai It was a surreal experience. Celebrations one moment, silence the next. Pictures, NEIL PUGH
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:658
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