Another St Andrew’s Day has come and gone, just like last year and the year before that, and those of us who are over the age of 50 look to the mainstream TV channels for Scottish entertainment to help us celebrate this special day. I mistakenly thought with this reckless leaving the Union fiasco looming that the Nationalists may have made an effort to lean on someone and show some of the great talent this wee nation has produced over the years.
Examples could have been Jimmy Shand, Kenneth McKellar, Moira Anderson, Jean Redpath, Joseph Hislop, The Corries, Francie and Josie, Stanley Baxter, Para-Handy, the Alexander Brothers, Lex McLean, Harry Lauder, Robert Wilson, Ricky Fulton, fiddles, pipes and Highland dancing.
Then there is all the young talent we never see; sadly, we have quietly lost our identity.
It seems like the old Scotland I grew up with has gone forever. If I could I would make all those members of the Scottish Parliament listen every morning to Robert Wilson singing Hail Caledonia but I suspect I would be told I was being offensive to others.
Iain W Forde wrote (29 November) to point out the negative effects of the Scottish climate on its people. On St Andrew’s Day, George Kerevan calls for parades and other festivities to recognise this date as our national day (Perspective, 30 November).
Mr Kerevan may not move around in an air-conditioned bubble, but he always seems to fail to recognise the Scottish climate. More than a year ago, he was calling for Edinburgh to push on with seafront development to emulate and benefit from sunny Barcelona’s example. Is he immune to chill?
This St Andrew’s Day in Edinburgh we were lucky, albeit cold, with bright sunshine – but not much of it before 9am or after 3:30pm, around six hours. Our short winter days are upon us. Despite Susan Rice’s plug in the same issue for US Thanksgiving (think turkey dinners in warm homes) or our own Christmas and New Year holidays (more turkey with drink), national holidays should be for the potential warmth and sun of spring and summer.
In Scotland we might look for suitable notable dates in spring and summer – for example we might restore the Lammas bank holiday in early August, sacrificed by business to the English bank holiday at the end of that month.
Or we could celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath on 15 April – it’s early, but the days are lengthening by then. Not everyone is keen on saints’ days; 3 May is the anniversary of John Knox’s 1557 Scottish Reformation. It might be controversial, but it did herald the tremendous Scottish tradition of free universal education.
No doubt other, more acceptable, dates may be suggested, but if we are to have a successful national holiday, with maximum participation, let’s have it when there is a chance of sunshine with warmth, to let us get out and enjoy it.
Michael CB McGregor