How was New Year for you? Did you sing shang-a-lang and run with the gang, zimmer frame and allergy to Jackie Bird permitting? Perhaps you favoured Elaine C Smith’s 1970s sitting room, first-footed by the Sturgeons to the fizzing, popping accompaniment of apoplectic Unionists? Or did you actually get up off your bahookie and hit the streets, stripping the world’s most humungous willow on the Royal Mile or toasting marshmallows in the warm glow of a burning hotel?
Wherever you were when the bells sounded, I hope 2016 will be a good year for you. I happily declare these good wishes universal, in the spirit of free prescriptions and bus travel for over-60s. Yes, I accept the inevitability of some recipients being complete ratbags. But it’s too complicated to tart up my blog with a login screen involving a mind probe or, for Willie Rennie’s benefit, a tricky piece of colouring in, so what else can I do?
Maybe, in the time-honoured tradition of sleekit politicians, I should hastily qualify the meaning of “good”. If you’re a Labour, Tory or Lib Dem looking forward to the Holyrood election, may your party come comfortably in the top six. If you’re David Cameron, may you always be where you belong, in the company of swine. If you’re Tony Blair, may your cell in The Hague have good-quality wallpaper. And if you’re Alistair Carmichael, may justice constantly follow in your footsteps. Oh, one wee suggestion for that last one: any chance we could replace the word “justice” with “an incontinent seagull”?
You’ll probably have some New Year resolutions sorted out, perhaps chiselled embarrassingly on a piece of stone in your back garden. In case you haven’t, the pinhead patricians of Country Life have come up with a spiffing idea: “Clean For The Queen”, encouraging the UK’s peasant classes to pick up their damn litter as a special 90th birthday present for Her Majesty, rather than as part of the intrinsic self-respect of a sovereign people.
Now, I’m no fan of litter, despite the state of my study suggesting that I love it so much I keep bringing it home. Whenever I feel my curmudgeonly powers fading, a weary glimpse of the M90’s besplattered grass verges is enough to get me snarling impotently again. If there’s a grown-up anti-littering campaign happening, only my innate politeness (oh, all right then, my fat-arsed laziness) stops me barging to the front of the queue, bin bag and tongs at the ready.
But even public relations superstar Boyd Tunnock wouldn’t be addle-brained enough to portray tidying the place up as a royal forelock-tugging exercise. Her Maj ain’t exactly short of diamond-encrusted J-cloths and won’t notice any difference anyway, since she hasn’t been allowed to see a speck of dirt since 1936 and thinks the world smells of disinfectant. The likeliest thing it’ll motivate the serfs to do is organise a fleet of muck-spreaders to undertake a spray-fest at Sandringham. Jings, just when you reckon the UK Establishment’s finally plumbed the depths of idiocy, another couple of marbles trundle lazily out of its ear…
Never mind, class, here’s another off-the-peg resolution for us all to sign up to: we must stop using the #SNPBad hashtag, because it makes Unionist bampots cry. This was the Boxing Day brainchild of Magnus Gardham, a grayscale photocopy of the Rev I M Jolly who occupies space in The Herald. “It contributes to an infantilised political culture,” said Magnus, the guy who once smeared John Nicolson for owning a flat.
The imperial press corps may not have many original ideas, but it sure can spot a bandwagon hirpling creakily around the hillside. No sooner had Gardham’s brain-burp rippled across the interweb than several other commentators were coming out in sympathy. “It’s outrageous that we’re not taken seriously when we hold the SNP to account,” they whined, failing to observe that hashtag hilarity was actually a sane and measured response to their pusillanimous pish.
“But hang on,” interjected some pro-Indy essayists who, unlike simple-minded comedy bloggers, actually comprehend nuance. “Isn’t there a real point here? Isn’t shouting #SNPBad just being glib and stifling debate?” Well, I’d be careful conceding too much ground to the forces of darkness, or before you know it they’ll be using your rib-cage as a glockenspiel, but I’d acknowledge that on occasion some folks have taken it a wee bit far. Still, that just means we need to keep a sense of proportion, not that we have to accept every piece of outrageous SNP-bashing burble-parp with a pat on the head and a concerned expression.
In the end, some things are so risible that you just have to laugh heartily. Maybe our resolution for 2016 should be to relax and do a great deal more chuckling. Medical experts say it’s life-enhancing and I don’t reckon there’s going to be any shortage of material.