Hogmanay: A 'quiet night in' wasn't all that bad – Stephen Jardine

Just two days old but already 2021 is shaping up to be better than the bin fire of detritus that was 2020.

As part of Edinburgh's online Hogmanay celebrations, a swarm of drones forms a heart over the Forth Bridge
As part of Edinburgh's online Hogmanay celebrations, a swarm of drones forms a heart over the Forth Bridge

So far no one has spotted an asteroid on a collision course with Earth or a pestilence to go with last year’s plague. Add to that the fact that LadBaby can’t stay in the charts for long and things are looking up.

Last year didn’t get the send off it deserved. Hogmanay should have been the biggest party ever to wave goodbye to that shocker of a year.

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However we are not out of the woods yet. The Oxford vaccine represents extra reinforcements for the cavalry but we still have a few dark weeks ahead as Covid keeps its grip on us as long as it can.

For that reason, Hogmanay was a low-key affair. For once, we all got the chance to find out what people mean when they said they had “a quiet one”. For Scots that was as hard to digest as week-old turkey bones because like the bicycle, television, tarmacadam and everything else worth having, we invented it.

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Sure the Aussies get to spend it on the beach and Times Square in New York must be fun at midnight but they are not the home of New Year, we are with a celebration that starts on Boxing Day and now seems to last until Easter. That knowledge seeps into our soul from a very young age as we grow up watching what happens when you combine whisky, 12 chimes and the sentiment of Auld Lang Syne.

A few refuseniks hunker down under the duvet and refuse to take part but the rest of us bounce around convinced that although the best knees up ever isn’t here, it also isn’t that far away. I know because I was there.

I can honestly say I’ve never had a quiet Hogmanay. One year I ended up at a bonfire in Biggar which melted the zipper on my coat. Then came the sober years standing on scaffolding on Princes Street presenting Hogmanay shows on TV which was even less fun than it sounds.

As each New Year came and went I wondered, what would it be like to do nothing? To stay at home and wake up without a hangover and a long list of commitments that will be gradually abandoned over the next few weeks in a blizzard of personal disappointment.

On Thursday night, we all got to find out and surprise, surprise, it wasn’t that bad. It may have lacked the highs of previous years but it also lacked the crushing hangover and the disappointment of having spent a fortune to watch someone who was once in Steps performing an out-of-tune acoustic set on an over-crowded high street somewhere.

In reality, it was the start 2021 required. A year ago we were looking forward to so much and instead received so little. Instead let’s lower those Hogmanay expectations and we can never be that disappointed again.

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