Just out of interest, when did the firework display become central to the whole Hogmanay experience?
As I recall, when I was a gal, the whole point of New Year was to stay inside as much as possible. This made – and makes – a great deal of sense. Winter is cold. The whole plan was to encourage everyone into one living room, put the record player on, Dad danced badly, Mum heated up sausage rolls, Auntie Margaret sang Son of A Preacher Man and Uncle Alec did his Left My Heart in San Francisco. No fireworks, though.
Even further back in our history, the launching of a firework would have been a spectacularly bad idea, given the apparent predilection for Viking raiders to lurk off the coasts of Scotland waiting for the Bells.
Just why raid-happy Norsemen waited for Hogmanay was always a mystery to me. Something to do with the ready availability of shortbread and Co-operative ginger wine, perhaps?
Fireworks then would have been a bad thing. It could to draw attention to yourself. You could have opened the front door to find what looked like an angry Wookie standing there with horns coming out his head. Yes, I know, that’s a myth. But it’s a cool look.
Shortbread? Yes. Out-of-key singing? Yes. Coal? Yes. But fireworks? Nope. Still they do look nice.
They look even nicer when you see the display Boris manages to get together for London.
As one, we turn into an entire nation of Bond villains. Very nice, Mr Johnson, we say. Now get a load of this.
And an entire castle goes up in a pyrotechnic display that wakes the whole world up.
Now that’s a firework display.
On the other hand, Hogmanay has always meant steak pie.
Why, they were virtually flying out the door of Anderson the butchers in Great Junction Street (yes, this is a plug. You should try them – amazing).
Strangely, no-one can tell me when, or why, the steak pie became the food of the Gods for New Year. And it’s still very much Scotland’s little secret.
I’ve met people who have lived here for years before they stumble on to the fact that rich beef stew (the inclusion of sausages is also acceptable) with a pastry crust is the only meal to consume at the beginning of the year.
Oh, let’s not tell anybody and keep some traditions to ourselves.
Morning after the night before
A tour around the Shore on January 1 or, as I like to call it, National Drinking Irn-Bru In Public Day, saw little groups of slow moving people with white shaky hands and pale faces.
It’s a bit like visiting the set of a zombie movie, only the undead, being mainly young foreign tourists, have much better teeth.
There’s a weird stillness to the air. The whole country just wants a fried breakfast, hot sweet tea and a sofa to sprawl on to watch The Dambusters.
There’s a faint air of embarrassment around, the way you get after a noisy party. You know, that way you sneak about hoping you didn’t annoy the neighbours.
Were we so loud we woke up Mrs Home-Counties? Well, you’ll know because she won’t speak to you in the street. Having said that, she doesn’t anyway. Bet she phoned the council.
Don’t tell me we made such a racket singing Auld Lang Syne that we made the French mad. That’s the last thing we want. No-one wants to be shouted at by a sleep deprived Jacques before breakfast.
Do you think the Welsh heard us? We forgot to invite them.
Winter lie-in is best spa none
And I know it’s back to work soon, and farewell for another year to that superb Scottish festive treat, the winter morning lie-in.
Oh, that moment before you open your eyes, when you remember there’s nothing to get up for, apart from a leisurely breakfast just before noon, that is.
You can hear the wind howling round the chimneys. You can almost feel that rain rattling the windows.
Now, on any other Tuesday morning, for example, it would be get up, get dressed and trudge to the bus stop.
Even in the summer holidays, the sun would stream through the windows (come on, it’s been known!) and prod you into getting up and getting active.
Ah, but on these cold, dark winter mornings, you just turn yourself over and take a lovely, long stretch to yourself. Wriggle your toes under the deliciously warm duvet and snuggle your shoulders up to the soft, cosy pillow, and just have a wee drowsy minute to take in the sheer luxury of your own bed.
That, my friends, is a spa treatment.
ALL THE BEST FOR 2014
Whatever 2014 brings, I hope the next Ne’er Day finds you enjoying fireworks and steak pie with your family and friends, and the year has been good to you. Happy New Year!