Gina Davidson: Old Snogmanay was simply great

A young couple kissing as midnight chimes at the Tron kirk in Edinburgh on Hogmanay 1990
A young couple kissing as midnight chimes at the Tron kirk in Edinburgh on Hogmanay 1990
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GET your cherry ChapStick ready, folks. The Tron, or as I fondly used to call it Cold Sore Central, is back on the Hogmanay herpes simplex virus map.

What excitement there used to be come New Year’s Eve at the idea of traipsing into the High Street laden with plastic bottles containing all manner of alcoholic concoctions – basically whatever could be swiped without parental knowledge – and freezing your backside off amidst a mob of similarly drunken folk (revellers didn’t arrive until Hogmanay became a sponsored “event”) kissing as many strangers as possible before wearily trudging home again because the pubs were shut, you never had a ticket to get into a club and the queue outside Gordon’s Trattoria was too horrendous to contemplate. Nightbuses? Pah.

Yet it was great. Admittedly there were fewer exotic foreign boys with which to have a quick New Year kiss – you were more likely to bump into the lads from school – but it was free and when you were there you felt that you were at the centre of the world.

But 20 years ago it all stopped when the council decided to actually make Edinburgh the centre of the Hogmanay world. The city’s celebrations in Princes Street Gardens, Princes Street and George Street have become a global phenomenon, becoming one of those events people feel they have to tick off on their things-to-do-before-you’re-30-list. That decision has undoubtedly played its part in transforming Edinburgh’s image abroad, and boosted the city’s coffers no end.

But I’ve always hankered a little for the simplicity of the Tron. There was no music, apart from the singing of Auld Lang Syne. No fireworks, unless you count the certainty of at least one verbal domestic. No television coverage.

Of course, it won’t be the same. I can hark back to the Hogmanays of yesteryear as much as I like, but the youth of today won’t make do with a few vodka jellies and a surge of democratic lurve for their fellow man. So the Tron is to host a Festival of the Extraordinary with live music, art installations, film screenings and even mixology masterclasses. When did young people have to be taught how to make a Pink Panther or Snakebite?

However, I’m sure it will be a fabulous event and will help give the masses who will head like lager-fuelled lemmings to the city centre whether they’ve got a street party ticket or not somewhere else to bring in 2013.

What is unlikely to be any different though is the mass outbreak of snogging come the bells. Now I think on it, I’m glad I won’t be there. I can keep my Zovirax in the bathroom cupboard.

Tinsel trauma

CHRISTMAS next week then. No matter that it occurs on the same day every year, it always seems to come sooner than I expect.

I’d love to be one of those women who shops for presents through the year and puts them aside, who writes their cards in November, who gets all the wrapping done by the second week of December, who has a house beautifully decorated in festive garb. But no.

Instead, our house looks like we’ve just moved in. We had new flooring put down last weekend – the result of a flood from the washing machine a few weeks earlier – there are cardboard boxes piling up in the shower cubicle (no fear of the kids ever finding them there) and given that the tree was decorated by children with a combined age of eight . . . well, you can imagine.

Right now, I’ve still got cards to send – they’ll never get there on time, but even a belated thought counts, doesn’t it? I’ve got countless presents to buy and too many Christmas carol concerts and panto events to ferry the tribe to to even think about starting to write gift labels. I’m just thankful that I’m not doing the cooking this year.

So Christmas Eve will once again be a stress pit of Sellotape stuck hair, wandering scissors and mulled wine-stained wrapping paper. I could say I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’d be lying.

Next year I’ll be that other woman.

Good sports

GREAT to see football players take time out to visit the homeless and sick children this week. For all that they are tarred with the same brush as being overpaid and over-indulged, it’s fair to say that players at Edinburgh clubs are not quite in the same bracket as those of the English Premier League – and those at Hearts know too well what it’s like not to get paid when there’s a mortgage direct debit about to come off.

Rivalry aside, it’s one of those heart-warming moments to see those who have managed to make a pretty good living from being able to kick a ball about give something back to the communities which support them.