Hey everyone. It’s Hogmaney and Scotland and the world gets ready to as we so eloquently put it see in the bells and welcome in another year.
At this time of year we tend to look back on the year just passed, this usually lasts until the first glass has been drunk. Then we look forward to what we hope the coming year will bring us.
However every Scot knows when it’s chucking out time and the party is finally over. Believe it or not, it isn’t when your drunken uncle, aunt, or even worse parent sing or should that be murder New York, New York My Way, or some other such timeless classic. It isn’t even when the club DJ puts on Runrig and the Proclaimers back to back for an ever so slightly embarrassing drunken conga. No though they can be taken as warning signs you know the moment to leave is when someone suggests that the company start a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Make no mistake this is the time to bolt, do a runner, or just get your coats because you know the party is about to go very flat. The booze has run out and if you stay too much longer the usual suspects will start the usual arguments on the usual topics.
Yet the song which has a message of friendship and was written by Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns, so often used to signal end of the gathering asks us a fundamental question. Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot And Never Brought To Mind or should we cherish the memories shared in the past. Personally my view is that it rather depends on who the auld acquaintance is and whether their contribution to my life has been positive or negative.
Well my way of looking at it is this, I tend to remember those people who have in whatever way encouraged and supported me in my activities, choices, and decisions, and have helped me become who I am today.
So when the bells ring in the New Year, I will be remembering my mum and dad, my gran, and a few of my relatives like a couple of cousins and my Uncle Tam the only Scottish Socialist Republican I know that ever went to Ibrox. As for the rest of them my attitude is the same as it is to some of my former work colleagues.
In other words, whilst wishing them no harm I certainly won’t be toasting their health. This is particularly true of those who tended to know the words of The Sash and Derry’s Walls and place them before the Flower Of Scotland or Scots Wha Hae. You know the type I’m talking about, the ones who think orange not red should be the colour of the Labour Party.
It is I far more important for me at least to remember the people I call family rather than those who are technically family but only when it suits them. Those are the kind of chancers I can well do without and my life is a lot happier since I cut ties with them. No my glass will not be raised to toast them but rather to drink to the health and happiness of those in my cultural and political families who come not from ties of blood but bonds of real friendship made in the spoken word and celtic music communities and through years of activism and campaigning for causes such as Scottish Independence Environmental Issues and Equal Marriage and against Apartheid and The Poll Tax more recently the Bedroom Tax.
These are the places where I have made friendships I know will last for life without conditions being imposed on who or what I can or cannot be do or say. It is these friends that I would gladly take a bullet for and without naming anyone I will say they know or at least they should know who they are and it is their health happiness and success I will be toasting at the bells.
Love And Best Wishes