An old Hogmanay tradition seems all the more appropriate this year - Christine Jardine

When I was wee Hogmanay was always busy in our house. Everything had to be cleaned from top to bottom, tidied or cleared out.

Hogmanay fireworks in Edinburgh. As this New Year approaches, the way we used to celebrate the approach of midnight on December 31 seems appropriate as we see out the old. PIC: Ian Georgeson Photography.
Hogmanay fireworks in Edinburgh. As this New Year approaches, the way we used to celebrate the approach of midnight on December 31 seems appropriate as we see out the old. PIC: Ian Georgeson Photography.

At the very last moment, just a couple of minutes before midnight, Dad would take out the bin and, when we had a coal fire, the ashes.

Superstition, Mum said, was that if you didn’t do all that before the bells you wouldn’t get on top of it all year.

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It was like creating a clean slate for your hopes and plans for the coming year.

I was thinking about Mum the other day as I was fighting through the last of the unpacking from the house move and waiting on the results from my latest COVID 19 PCR test.

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Pandemic or no pandemic she would have been clearing the way for 2022. Making plans for the family and encouraging us all to think about what we wanted to achieve in the next twelve months.

What we hoped for.

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There are times, at the moment when that thinking about the future must be incredibly difficult for so many people.

The pain of the pandemic and its impact is still too raw.

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The frustration of the times when we thought we were on top of Covid only for it to come back again as Alpha, Beta, Delta or Omicron too recent.

In those circumstances you might expect everyone to want to lose themselves in the usual round of parties and Hogmanay spirit, if that were possible, or the best available alternative.

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But everywhere I have been able to go in this pandemic I have heard the same thing from people.

Something a million miles from doom, gloom or darkness..

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Even though they are facing rocketing fuel prices and the highest inflation for a decade is squeezing their income and stretching their finances to breaking point.

Despite the fear that their children’s education may never recover the learning they have lost from Covid or the worry that their elderly relatives will not get the care they so desperately need and deserve.

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Every person I have met is determined we will put these past two years behind us and build something better.

A fairer deal for everyone.

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The resilience and determination of the people of these islands is an inspiration.

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From individual acts of kindness to the constant mass efforts of our NHS, public services and care staff.

We have taken everything this damned virus has thrown at us and come though.

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The shortest day has passed and we are looking forward to the New Year with that most valuable of commodities: hope.

But how can we make sure that is fulfilled by our political leaders?

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How do we create that fairer deal for everyone?

There are still too many questions to be answered about Omicron but we do know that its impact is already having a profound impact on our economy.

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The number of people isolating or unable to work is staggering.

The records for the last week available show that there were 700,000 lateral flow tests taken in Scotland.

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The previous week it had been fewer than fifty thousand.

Each of them potentially represents someone not able to keep our NHS, public services or shops going.

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Breaks in the supply chain seem inevitable and the Chancellor’s derisory £6000 grants for hospitality businesses will not touch the side of the problem.

If we are to fulfil the hopes of the people then is time that both of our Governments in Scotland – Holyrood and Westminster – put aside whatever party political pride is motivating them and opened their door to the opposition parties.

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In crises through our history we have worked collectively in the national interest.

Even at the height of Brexit when I witnessed a parliament almost paralysed by the issue, Theresa May invited in all parties to try to resolve the stalemate.

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That is the cooperation we need now from a recalled parliament.

The Chancellor must stop his patchwork approach and set out an emergency budget.

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Nicola Sturgeon must climb down from her separatist hobby horse and welcome the ideas of those who want unity.

Most of all the Prime Minister has to put aside the bluff, bluster and old boys act in favour of some sober reflection and clear action.

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And listening.

If ever he was in any doubt that was what the public wanted surely the message he was sent last week by the voters of North Shropshire will have cast that out.

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It’s time to listen to the voices calling for swifter, bolder action to protect people, to stop the NHS being overwhelmed.

A one-off windfall tax for online giants to support our small businesses and create a more level playing field for high street businesses under threat.

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More money to invest in our schools and a just transition to a sustainable economy which harnesses the technological know-how of the North Sea industries to create it.

We are all hoping for a better year ahead, and it is almost midnight.

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One other Hogmanay tradition might be in order.

Every year, however cold it was, my mum or Gran would open the windows wide.

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It was, of course, partly to hear the bells ring in Ne’erday on the stroke of midnight and launch the celebrations which would go on long into the wee small hours of the morning.

But it was also to welcome a fresh year in and send its predecessor on its way.

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This year we can make sure the change is a good one.

A guid new year to you all.

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