Brian Monteith: Reasons to be cheerful aren't in short supply
After all of the political shocks of last year there was a certain gloom overshadowing the bringing in of the New Year this last week. Many seemed to think 2016 was the year from hell and could not wait for it to be over '“ me I loved it. Yes, many of my heroes died, but that was mere happenstance. There was much that went well in 2016 '“ it really comes down to what you take from the cataclysmic events.
Although it’s very easy to be cynical as one gets older (and it’s my birthday this weekend) I happen to think there’s much to be positive about 2017. Although for me personally it would be hard to beat 2016 politically, Hibs could always win the Cup and promotion this time, and I have the wedding of one of my sons to look forward to.
I think Trump was the best of a poor choice but expect him to prove many people wrong and that the US will benefit from breaking out of its Clinton-Obama hegemony just as we will benefit from seeing off the Blair-Cameron duopoly.
More generally though, the economic news has been mostly positive and exposes the lie to all the Brexit doom-mongering that is still being recited by bad losers that remain in denial. I believe that Brexit will be good for Scotland – and, yes, Edinburgh too.
For instance, so much for the threats and warnings about air travel becoming difficult if we left the EU – this week we have seen the announcement of the airline Norwegian starting a transatlantic price war with new low-cost flights from Edinburgh to destinations such as New York and probably Boston. At least 130 jobs are expected to be created directly, with more openings from support services, while 100 new retail jobs are bound for Edinburgh Airport in its latest improvements.
The results for UK manufacturing in the December of 2016 are the best in the last 30 months, proving all of the critics wrong and suggesting 2017 is going to be a bumper year. In case you did not notice, the FTSE 100 surged to a new record high, helping pensioners and savers whose investments are now worth more while the pound continues its recovery as the true weakness of the euro becomes more noticeable.
Around the country business is booming with Aldi starting work on a 1000-job distribution centre; 7000 new jobs are being planned for an “inland port’ in the East Midlands and over 1000 jobs in Exeter at a new £100 million warehouse for The Range retail company. In Northern Ireland a new order from our very own Lothian Buses for 316 double-deckers to be built is being celebrated in Ballymena. A French energy company is investing more in the UK while Chinese investment in Manchester commercial property has increased 50 per cent. And despite all of the moaning from academics, 90 new jobs will be created at a new research facility at the University of Nottingham.
Meanwhile the revival of British steel plants continues – what a shame the Brexit vote did not come soon enough to save Redcar – and is now leading to the prospect of the first mass production of bikes in Britain in decades as the backer of Liberty Steel gets behind Trillion Bicycles.
While our politicians argue over the traces of battle our business men and women are getting on with getting on. They are our best hope for 2017.
It’s full steam ahead for new Trainspotting
The giltz and the glam will park on January 22 for Trainspotting 2’s premiere before its release five days later – and I wish the film well.
The original Trainspotting was a welcome antidote to the shortbread tin vacuities that often surround Edinburgh and paints it as posh and without its own earthiness and social problems. Nothing could be further from the truth, all life exists in the city and it was refreshing to see the reality check reach the big screen.
Hopefully the promoters will bear that in mind and give locals ample opportunity to attend specially staged celebrity premieres that can help raise money for those that that need help rather than judgement.
Ronnie was a unique talent
While so many commentators have been remembering last year for the passing of David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and other world famous rock stars I was pleased to see a TV review of the best sketches from the Two Ronnies giving long overdue credit to the work of Ronnie Corbett and explain how it came from his work as an individual performer.
Because Ronnie Barker was such a brilliant character actor and scriptwriter he often won the lion’s share of the plaudits, but that was to misunderstand how they needed and worked off each other.
Our own Edinburgh lad Corbett was a brilliant cabaret performer and could do stand-up and compering in an instant that Barker would have run a mile from.
Having seen him live I believe Corbett really was a unique talent and one of last year’s lost performers I shall miss most – thank goodness for DVDs.
Happy New Year with no Nicola
Last week I bemoaned the disappointing standard of Christmas television and this week I was almost driven to write the same again about Hogmanay television, until I suddenly realised it was marginally better than last New Year – but only because STV spared us the Nicola Sturgeon special it ran last time around.
After a record number of complaints from viewers about the politicisation of our Hogmanay traditions I shall instead congratulate the independent broadcasters for listening to the public. Now they just have to find some real comedy that does not need gratuitous swearing and 2017 will be better already.