THE clock is ticking down the hours until 2011 becomes just a memory.
But is it a memory filled with optimism for Arab nations emerging after remarkable events of the Arab Spring . . . or one dominated by the severity of the economic crisis?
Perhaps your overriding memory of the year is of shameful behaviour on and off Scotland’s football pitches, or the dramatic SNP election result that changed Scotland’s political map. Maybe you’ll look back on another year that failed to deliver the trams.
Amid all the doom and gloom it can be easy to overlook the things in life that raise the spirits. Then along came two remarkable people, their approach to keeping us entertained wildly different, but both similarly uplifting.
We told how little Saskia Eng from Balgreen had made it to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, reaching the last 200 out of 100,000 hopefuls. Her journey earned the ten-year-old praise from the judges – and she didn’t stop there.
By August she was performing to delighted Festival crowds and raking in around £100 an hour.
The star in the making has continued to sing out loud, and earlier this month reached the regional finals of the under-16 category in the national Open Mic UK singing competition held in Manchester. “Saskia was amazing,” recalls dad Tony, 46. “There were 25 in the under 16 category and four went through.
“Unfortunately Saskia wasn’t one. She was on antibiotics for tonsillitis and was struggling with her voice but even so she sang brilliantly.”
While Saskia put a smile on our faces with her voice, somewhere in Edinburgh someone else was busy turning literature into an artform with a series of intriguing and mysterious paper sculptures.
We revealed in June how intricate paper sculptures were turning up in Edinburgh’s cultural hotspots, with no hint as to who made them.
The Filmhouse Cinema and the National Library of Scotland followed the Scottish Poetry Library as recipients of the striking artworks, each painstakingly created from the pages of books. The Evening News tracked down the person responsible but, in keeping with the spirit of their original idea, we agreed not to identify them.
Instead we’ll simply reflect on the message attached to the final three sculptures left in November at the National Poetry Library, the National Museum and the Edinburgh Book Shop, thought to be the artist’s last.
“You need to know when to end a story,” it read, “Cheers, Edinburgh, it’s been fun.”
Fun, indeed, but how did the middle months of the year pan out?
May kicked off with dramatic news – the death of Osama Bin Laden, killed by US forces in Pakistan.
Closer to home there was sadness at the passing of Hibs legend Eddie Turnbull. Sadly, he was followed by golf great Seve Ballesteros at the age of just 54. In politics the Scottish Labour Party licked its wounds as we recorded Alex Salmond’s Nationalists’ victory in the Holyrood elections with the headline “Salm Dunk”.
In the “you couldn’t make it up” category, Iron Maiden’s plane – call sign 666 obviously – was snapped at Edinburgh Airport.
Thefts of scrap metal became a common theme during 2011. In May, almost £4000 worth of copper was stolen from the roof of St John the Baptist Church in Corstorphine. A week earlier, the parish house where Father George Suszko lives was robbed while he conducted a service. We caught a group of youths stripping derelict building in Muirhouse of scrap while the building was on fire. And in the most audacious robbery, 20 tonnes of steel would disappear from the new Tattoo grandstands.
Football made the leap from the back pages to the front. First Alyshia Walker was ruled out of playing in her team’s biggest game despite being their captain and star player, because she is a girl, and then the SPL was under the spotlight when Hearts supporter John Wilson ran on to the pitch at Tynecastle and lunged at Celtic manager Neil Lennon. The assault case against him was later found not proven.
Meanwhile, Hearts raised the possibility of quitting Tynecastle.
Never far from the headlines, the trams controversy took an unusual twist when TIE chairman Vic Emery said what most of us were thinking, that the tram roadworks had left the city looking like war-ravaged Tripoli. His apology coincided with news chief executive Richard Jeffrey had quit.
At the High Court, Robert Chalmers was convicted of killing Samantha Wright, 25, and dumping her body in a wheelie bin at his home in Magdalene.
Trouble rumbled on at the zoo as chairman Donald Emslie quit days after a vote of no confidence.
And the death of Lynn Beveridge, 59, at the Elsie Inglis nursing home sparked an investigation that led to the closure of the home and demands for improved standards in care homes.
You can’t catch one, but you can’t escape them either. Trams dominated the news. First we suggested you could no longer trust Edinburgh’s 58 councillors to decide on the future of the project. Then an exclusive poll showed 78.6 per cent in favour of scrapping the scheme if the line stopped at Haymarket. We revealed the SNP planned to call for a referendum on the whole project and how a former bus chief feared the trams would destroy the award-winning Lothian Buses.
There was also more panda news with the revelation that the zoo “forgot” to apply for planning permission for the bears’ new £250,000 enclosure. However the appointment of interim chief executive Hugh Roberts was announced to steady the ship.
Pippa Middleton was making headlines. Photographs of her modelling on the catwalk as a student in Edinburgh revealed her in a different light.
There was heartbreaking news from Florida, student pilot Carly Beattie, 21, and her 24-year-old brother Daniel, both of Penicuik, died when her Cessna 152 crashed.
And the family of young mum Alami Gotip paid emotional tribute to her after she was stabbed to death at home by her teenage boyfriend Jamie Ellis.
There was justice for Natalie Muir, 21, when her killers were convicted. Her schoolboy former lover organised the killing in Whitburn after she had aborted his unborn baby.
Hearts player Craig Thomson was put on the sex offenders register after he was caught preying on under-age girls on the internet. The club’s delay sacking the player led to a furore.
All eyes were on Canongate Kirk as Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall wed. The security bill for their “private” wedding was later revealed to be in the region of £400,000.
But while the sun shone for her, flash floods caused chaos for others when a quarter of the month’s rainfall came down in the space of a few hours. There were some smiles, however, when a video emerged of two naked men who streaked to the aid of a stricken motorist.
We revealed how Harry Jarvis, 61, and Rita Heyster, 57, lived “like newlyweds” as they awaited trial over the murder of Jarvis’ wife Carol. Jarvis was convicted of murder, Heyster was cleared of the killing, but convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
There was surprise at the Government’s decision to close and sell off three Edinburgh army bases. Meanwhile, tributes were paid to Sighthill soldier Scott McLaren, found dead after going missing from a checkpoint in Helmand.
The month was tragically overshadowed by dreadful news from Norway, that a man who had earlier set off a bomb in Oslo, then went on a shooting spree on an island retreat, killing scores of young people.
It was the month when it seemed the whole tram scheme would implode. After the administration was defeated in its bid to take the line to St Andrew Square, it seemed we would be left with a useless route from the airport to Haymarket. The Evening News reflected public feelings by dressing the main party leaders as clowns on the front page under the headline “What a joke”. That, though, was just the start.
Jenny Dawe warned her administration could quit if the decision stood. Finally the month ended with a U-turn by the SNP group, which ensured the line would go to St Andrew Square.
Lothian and Borders Police made a full public apology to the family of tragic Chinese delivery driver Simon San for failings in the investigation into his killing. An internal inquiry found that it was not treated as a racist incident despite evidence to the contrary.
The Festival rolled into town and the Evening News splashed dramatic pictures of a knife-raid taking place. The CCTV showed a masked man hold up Dorota Khan at her shop in Livingston.
And in possibly the most bizarre crime story of the year, a cat-napper was caught on CCTV in Edinburgh stealing Max, a valuable Russian Blue cat, from a street in Fountainbridge and then speeding off. Max turned up two weeks later in a garden in Trinity.