It’s another great Scottish tradition. The second the Bells die away, the telly is wall-to-wall holiday adverts. Happy families whooping it up under azure skies, frolicking in topaz seas and actually talking to each other next to deep blue swimming pools across tables laden with beautiful food. What a belter of a fib to feed a nation staggering out of the festive trenches.
The kids are still in a snit over the wrong version of the computer game, Mum’s got a sort of on-going post-festive shellshock, Dad’s decided to have a huge cold, and Auntie Margaret won’t even look the road Uncle Bob’s on. No-one is quite sure why, but it may be something to do with the way he read out ‘that’ joke from the cracker at the Christmas table. We may be a progressive nation, but vasectomy remains a subject unfit for the dinner table, especially one with Alan, Julie and their six kids round it.
Look at them on the telly, skipping and giggling their way through a queue-free airport. No-one runs through airports. Security would have you on the deck before you’d even started your holiday giggling, and if they didn’t get you, the perfume girls at the Duty Free are waiting to sniper-spray your eyes as you navigate the retail maze.
No-one skips through modern terminals. Everyone knows that airports are places where families go to sleep on the floor. Clearly, these lucky people do not find themselves suddenly grounded by the Phantom Drone Attack of Old Gatwick Town.
Here’s a thing. Airports are surrounded by blokes in serious anoraks, listening intently to ground-to-air chatter and aiming their expensive cameras at anything that flies in, including random birds. They film everything, and yet whatever hovered above the runways of Gatwick, grounding thousands of people, remains elusive.
Right now, we’ve got more conclusive photographic evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
Even if someone wasn’t standing about throwing paper airplanes at Runway 6a, there’s always the chance that the cleaner will have unplugged the computer to use her Henry Hoover, causing the entire system to go into the sort of re-booting meltdown that grounds more planes than an Icelandic volcano.
There are times, y’know, when I think that there is a not-terribly subtle plot to keep us all on this tiny island.
TV Hogmanay is the ultimate poison chalice
Just before the New Year fireworks, I glanced at the telly. There was the ever-serene Jackie Bird gliding her way through the audience to introduce the annual Hogmanay Telefest.
She’s the consummate professional, that woman, no complaints here.
God knows, that broadcast is the ultimate poison chalice. The naysayers must be sharpening their green crayons the minute the opening credits have started. I sometimes wonder who they are, and is this the highlight of their year?
It is as much of a fantasy Scottish Hogmanay as the holiday adverts are of those carefree all-inclusives.
The show is like one of those shortbread tins. It’s all wrapped up in tartan, packed with sugary sentiment and it seems to be mainly for tourists.
Jackie presides over the entire event, occasionally clutching a wee glass of something fizzy, looking like a lady who has invited the neighbours for the Bells and now isn’t very sure that was such a good idea.
Yes, some of the music is mildly dreech. No Hogmanay show is complete without at least one beautifully sung interminable dirge. But least we forget, sentimentality runs through us like a name through seaside rock, and there is no more lachrymose sight than a Scotsman on that one-too-many whisky.
And of course, we have Phil Cunningham and Ally Bain, who only seem to appear at the witching hours around the Hogmanay midnight, like a sort of musical lads version of Fran ‘n’ Anna.
Where they keep them for the rest of the year, I wonder? Is there a store cupboard in the BBC for fast-fingered fiddlers?
This is what Hogmanay should be like
Whether we like it or not, the rest of the world pretty much now sees us as a sort of Hogmanay Brigadoon, with wild fireworks and tame partying.
Not when I was a kid it wasn’t. There was shortbread, to be sure, but there were crisps, sausage rolls and pork luncheon meat sarnies made six hours earlier, but none the worse for being a tad curly round the edges.
The drink flowed freely, but the only bubbles we saw were the ones in the Barrs Limeade, bought specially for the kids.
There was some pretty shocking dancing, usually to Abba.
Best of all, the singing was done in strict rotation, and there was always One Singer, One Song.
My Uncle Alex sang ‘San Francisco’. My dad sang all of Dean Martin’s hits in one mash-up.
This Hogmanay, let’s broadcast the show from a front room in Livingston. I’m sure Jackie would give a hand making the sarnies.