Marrying a Scot has advantages. I didn’t have to hire any formal men’s attire for my wedding. I have an acquired immunity to poor weather and long car journeys. And of course, Scotland is just a beautiful place to go and visit. It might be cold and dark at this time of year and full of midges throughout the summer, but it is atmospheric: misty lochs; castles; people juggling clubs in the street; mountains covered in snow and that cobwebby moss that dangles from branches. It’s always a delight to visit my family because of their glorious homeland…. oh, and their company, of course.
They have lovely voices. Go into the deepest, most depraved housing estate you can find in Scotland, find a room full of people and close your eyes. Even the ‘common’ accents there have the lovliest lovely lilt to them (as long as you don’t need to understand them, it’s fine).
On returning to England, I find that I can suddenly talk authoritatively about whisky even when I don’t have a clue. I go into shops with dodgy-looking twenty pound notes and feel smug and contemptuous when Yorkshire shopkeepers understandably refuse to believe they’re legal tender. I can tell stories about haggis with a straight face (there’s even a herd of vegetarian haggis, harder to catch but more ethical), enrich my general conversation with words such as ‘wee’ and I could, if I’d wanted to, have named my children pretentiously Scottish names (those who can’t think of any can watch The Family Ness for inspiration).
However the best perk of marrying into Scotland is that the Scots know how to celebrate New Year. And I, despite being one of the grumpy English, am firmly of the opinion that New Year should be well celebrated. New beginnings, self-improvement: clearly good for the soul.
So. We swallowed the best part of half a bottle of champagne before the twenty-course meal. I managed half a bottle of wine during it, a certain amount of Port or Baileys in between with a fair few glasses of some rather nice, aged and deliberately obscure single malt afterwards.
Dancing started with the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant and ended much, much later with Solid Gold Cheese. On the stroke of midnight, Auld Lang Sine was sung (peole even knew the words for the second verse and some hokey-kokey-style running into the centre was obviously indulged in), everyone kissed everyone else in the room; Chinese lanterns sailed through the air; fireworks streaked and scattered across the sky. Walking barefoot to the clearing or lochside to watch the fireworks, on freezing cold ground, is something I do every year and every year, I wish I’d worn my shoes.
What else happens every year? People laugh, people cry, people kiss and of course, people dance or sit and watch other people dancing. They exchange gossip and argue about politics and put the world to rights and tell scandalous stories that they possibly shouldn’t. Eventually they pass out, one by one.
The next morning, those with kids are up at the crack of dawn (or at least, my husband was), choosing the best deserts from the night before for their breakfasts because it always pays to break diet-related New Years Resolutions early. (Tirrimassu and Trifle. Delicious, thankyou). There is a two-day Bank Holiday in Scotland so the following night we were still there for haggis, neeps, tatties, cheese and chocolate and the leftover booze.
So if I missed a post last week, it’s because I was too busy to worry very much about femminism, body image and so on. We also spent a few days stopping to eat and drink to excess with various relatives on the way back home. But you’ll be pleased to know that I did get this picture (explained in my last post: do read it if you haven’t) and that I did go for a run.