I'm a Scot so New Year has always had a special significance for us. When my mother moved to Scotland 65 years ago she was shocked that my father didn't have Christmas Day off work. It was Hogmanay that was celebrated and as a child I remember it being a special time of community, of friendship, of fun, of music and of course there would be drink taken. The house would be cleaned from top to bottom so the new year could be welcomed a fresh. A chorus of Auld Lang Syne, the traditional song of the New Year, can still always move me to tears. The first day of the year aye had a quiet start, with soup the traditional hangover cure and steak pie and haggis to be looked forward to in guid time.
This year has been a predictable mixture of emotions. With surgery now just round the corner, a happy new year is hard to imagine. But the winter solstice has passed, there is more light and after winter, there will always be spring. A key message of this time of year too. The first time I had cancer and at the same time lost my father to the same disease, there was a time it felt too big to see past and a wise GP said to me; don't worry Audrey there will be better times. His words soothed me in a way that no others had at that time and he was right. He was right. I'm remembering those words just now and hope they provide comfort to others who are struggling too.
So this year at "the bells" we went with good friends to watch the fireworks in our wonderful city. Edinburgh does it in style and as the castle changed its colours to welcome in the New Year of 2016, the fireworks filled the sky with wonder. It was magical and joyful. This year we noticed a higher level of security and I can only imagine the pressure for those seeking to keep our community safe as it celebrated and I'm so grateful to them. Later that day we went to a special screening of " The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black,Black Oil" play in the Filmhouse Cinema. It's a storming play about the fundamental influences in recent centuries on the face of working class Scotland. The play is by John McGrath and was a film of the play performed by the 7:84 theatre company that he formed from the 1970s. We chatted later about how little Scottish History we learned in school; how little Scottish culture was part of our education. Our culture of course will change and shape over time but if we are to make informed decisions about our future, how can we do that without understanding our past?
What a strange few weeks this has been, with a new diagnosis that blindsided me initially. When waits for scan results ( thanks fully clear of secondary disease) gave me an anxiety laden place to think about what mattered most to me. Yes it was pretty much all time with family and those I love that mattered more than anything but also still for me a chance to go on doing the work I love. And also -and this was maybe surprisingly even for me ( unionist look away now)- I found myself longing to still be here to see Scotland be an autonomous country again. interesting what becomes clear at these times.
So 2016 I await you and as ever I hope for better things for all of us, whatever challenges you face and whatever joys are just around the corner. A guid new year to one an a'...
for Auld Lang Syne