Hogmanay in Scotland is a time for traditions. First-footing, coal, whisky, Auld Lang Syne, steak pie (apparently), black bun, and all the rest. When I lived in America, New Year’s Eve was the hardest time of year to be away from the country of my birth.
But there’s another tradition that covers all of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that I didn’t miss so much – the New Year’s Honours List.
Or for that matter, the snarky fortysomething stroke bloke.
Last week’s post on chairs was meant to segue seamlessly into a post this week about a musician who – like chairs – features surprisingly little on the blog yet has a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the times. Then George Michael died.
Well, nobody found the Birds Fate Ruins Xmas EP during the past week. Which is hardly surprising, given the story of its creation and deletion. Besides, Prof Paul, Mouthsounds Steph and I have made a point of scouring car boot and stoop sales, second-hand record stores, and record fairs for Birds Fate material for more years than I think any of us care to remember.
But you know how it is with your favourite bands – you don’t listen to them for ages, and then you put ’em on and remember why you loved them in the first place. So it was that the Prof went back to his Birds Fate archive after reading last weeks post.
I’ve just opened the doors on my advent calendars for the sixth of December. “Tobacco” beard oil, a jasmine green tea light ale, and a piece of chocolate bearing the countenance of an appropriately sceptical elf, since you ask.
On Tuesday, I was invited to an event run by The Open University’s Reading Communities team in association with The Scottish Book Trust’s Book Week Scotland and the Being Human festival of the Humanities. It was called Edinburgh: A City of Readers. As well as my story Valhalla, I was asked to read an extract from an 1830 letter written by the actress, writer, and abolitionist campaigner Fanny Kemble in which she talks of breakfasting with Walter Scott and a small party of other Scottish luminaries of the time.
Apparently, she found it
strange that so varied and noble an intellect should be expressed in the features of a shrewd, kindly, but not otherwise striking countenance.
Let’s just ignore the elephant in the room for a moment, shall we? Yes, for someone who has the ability to speak out against racism and misogyny and homophobia (dons Stroke Bloke hat – or ablism) to choose to stay silent on these matters is the same as condoning them. So let’s be clear – I’m against these things here, in my life, and in my art.