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Iain Maciver: Back to bad weather and business as usual after Hogmanay

It's time to pack up the decorations and get on with the year (Photo: Artem Onoprienko/Shutterstock)
It's time to pack up the decorations and get on with the year (Photo: Artem Onoprienko/Shutterstock)

The jingling of the bells grows fainter. The twinkling lights on trees vanish from windows.

The best of the year TV compilations give way to real life stories about bad weather, prices rocketing and the endless efforts of Matt Hancock to revive his political career. Welcome back, Mr Han… Oh, just kidding. Go away, mate.

Thank goodness that expensive season is over. My festive spirit has evaporated, rather like my Irish liqueur that someone else fancied.

Now the price of Hobnobs, Jaffa Cakes and Penguins is going up by about 5% at a stroke and Santa Baby is being replaced by programmes like One Year On, How Has Brexit Improved Your Life?

We were to begin trading with the world, the NHS would get piles more cash and everything would improve. Now, Scotland’s producers complain they cannot trade with their best markets in Europe because of red tape and new crippling taxes.

Less taxing is a TV appearance we long for every year. At the appointed hour, houses all around the country fall silent. They gather round the old goggle-box.

Dancing into 2022

The coming year would not be the same if we did not see our serene monarch of our hearts as she gets ready to speak unto the nation. Through the trials and tribulations of the last 12 months, we have waited patiently for this moment. And there she is… Cathy Macdonald presenting the Hogmanay ceilidh into the bells.

With her loyal consort Niall Iain by her side, the queen of Gaelic daytime radio and nighttime telly effortlessly, and with perfect Great Bernera diction, introduces acts who this year were in particularly fine fettle.

The Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band, featuring Mallaig’s own harpist Ingrid Henderson, were on blistering form, as were the Stornoway Coves, otherwise known as New Tradition. They featured that superb accordionist, Stephen Drummond.

Stephen is not one of these box players who just sits there twiddling and doesn’t know what to do with his head. He really gets into the music. Not since Sir Jimmy Shand… Ach, that’s enough nostalgia. I’m filling up.

Sir Jimmy seemed calm on the screen but his foot was going like the clappers. He was once turned down by the BBC at an audition because he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, stop his foot tapping.

It was getting late and a wee drammie may have been had. I’m sure even the ones peering into webcams in Canada and Texas would have started early

Lead warbler in New Tradition, of course, is the multi-talented Iain Costello Maciver. He can not only write and sing in both languages, but also melds them with other melodies of the world.

To welcome 2022, Costello sang a touching song about the moon over Loch Seaforth and how it reminded the songwriter of his long lost love. Only Costello could sing a tearjerker like that to the tune of What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made A Loser Out Of Me) as made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis, Rod Stewart and a million late-night pub singers.

Why didn’t the TV hosts chat to the excitable online ceilidh-goers waving on the studio screens from around the world, and around South Uist too? Well, it was getting late and a wee drammie may have been had. I’m sure even the ones peering into webcams in Canada and Texas would have started early.

And people on the other side of the pond mumble. We’ve all heard Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. They’re almost as difficult to understand as people from Uist.

Are we going to be invaded by polar bears?

I am mumbling and my feet are tapping. It’s getting so cold. The forecasts are so complicated. One here says it will be below zero here with an 80% chance of heavy precipitation. You mean snow, don’t you? Why don’t you say so?

Another forecast says there’ll be “Arctic air”. Is it going to freeze, then? Are we going to be invaded by polar bears?

There are already some cute polar bears living in the Highlands (Photo: RZSS)

By the way, how do you catch a polar bear? You cut a hole in the ice and line it with frozen peas. Then, when the bear goes to take a pea, you kick him in the ice hole. A 10-year-old told me that one.

Before I dig myself into any more holes, I must tell you about Maggie. She took a nap on Hogmanay afternoon. Afterwards, she told her husband: “I just dreamt you gave me a diamond ring as a New Year present. What does that mean?” He said: “Well, a’ ghraidh, you’ll find out tonight.”

At midnight, he handed her a wee gift-wrapped box. Maggie hurriedly unwrapped it to find it was a book entitled The Meaning of Dreams.

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