Susan Morrison: A guid New Year and all that

Picture: John Devlin

Picture: John Devlin

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LOOK, I’ve said it before, why are we naming these storms all of a sudden? When I was a lass, there were several big blaws that hit us, but we usually didn’t bother trying to get a formal introduction.

In the years that followed they were usually were recalled as That Big Storm That Blew Down Mr McMillan’s Shed, or The Night The Blantyre Road Flooded.

It is perfectly acceptable to tussle with a complete stranger over the last Black Bun or a random selection of Shortbread fingers, as long as you say ‘Happy New Year’.

The predictions of threatening rain or promises of sunny intervals were brought to us just after the news by the weatherman. It was always a man in those days, and always in a suit, and they always bore a faintly disturbing resemblance to undertakers. There was no showbiz about the presentation. They had the air of briefing the nation. It didn’t take a huge leap of imagination to imagine these guys in blue RAF uniforms detailing the expected cloud cover over the Ruhr Dams to a roomful of flight suit wearing Bomber Command aircrew.

The weatherman would gesture to wavy lines and little flaggy things on the map, and tell us what they thought the rain would be like the next day. They didn’t bother explaining what the lines were. Why should they? These people were professionals talking and we should just trust them.

Later on, of course, they condescended to explain what an isobar was, and why weather fronts were a good thing, and even use little sticky cutouts of clouds and sunshine, which occasionally created hilarity when they fell off like sub-par fuzzy felt.

Later still, they let women in on the act, but only if they dressed as modestly as a nun on an undercover mission and maintained a suitably concerned expression at all times.

The suited and booted man from the Met Office would tell us there was a storm coming in, it would be very bad, here’s where it would hit, and make sure the windows and doors were locked fast. Oh, there was that one occasion when they flatly denied there was any such thing on the way, and woke up the next day to find half the trees in Southern England gone, but by and large, that’s how it worked.

Storms did not have names. The Meteorological Office had no truck with such whimsy.

The rot set in the minute weather forecasters started cracking jokes and wearing designer outfits and chitchatting with the news anchor like they were all members of one big happy family.

Suddenly storms needed names, so we’ve had Brendas and Abigails and Franks. I can’t help but notice that the more we’re naming them, the more we seem to be seeing of them. Stop giving them names. It makes them feel at home.

Unless, of course, this craze to slap a mundane name on a destructive force of nature is an effort to stop the Scots christening our own storms with something faintly embarrassing?

After all, we brought the world Hurricane Bawbag.

Panic shopping champs

Of course, in the event of a climatic cataclysm it will be imperative to secure as much food and Irn Bru as possible so that survivors can hole up until help arrives.

There is one nation that can teach the world how to panic shop, and that is the Scots.

Other nations may think they do retail frenzy, but we’ve elevated storming the aisles to an art, because we hone our skills twice in one week, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Walk into any supermarket at about an hour before closing on Hogmanay and it looks like Armageddon has just been forecast by a quip-cracking designer clad weather gal called Sally.

Normal rules of shopping do not apply. It is perfectly acceptable to tussle with a complete stranger over the last Black Bun or a random selection of Shortbread fingers, as long as you say ‘Happy New Year’.

Farewell 2015

So, that’s 2015 away then, is it? It’s always a bit hopeful and bit sad as the bells chime and another year becomes history.

Looking forward, we’re all making those resolutions about eating better, drinking less and going to the gym. There’s an old Jewish joke that goes, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans for the future. Right now the Almighty must be busting a gut at the number of plans he or she gets to hear right now.

To absent friends

And it’s always sad to look back at who we lost. The world’s a little poorer without people like Cilla, Terry Prachett, and most recently Lemmy.

Lemmy was the ultimate, unapologetic hell-raising rock star who would take one look at your clean living, alcohol free, exercise regime plans for the New Year and roar with derision like a pagan God whilst reaching for the smokes and Jack Daniels.

Happy new year!

A good 2016 to you all. I hope your wishes come true, even if your resolutions don’t!