Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Out with the old, in with the new

Out with the old, in with the new

THERE are an awful lot of smile resistant people in Edinburgh who get fairly prickly in the run up to the Bells.

They will moan about the road closures to facilitate the street party or other New Year celebrations, grumble about there being too many tourists as they try and navigate their way through the post Christmas sales.

And in these times of austerity, there are others too who will condemn the use of public money, the drinking to excess and the need to supervise the masses.

But not me. No siree.

To my mind the way this beautiful, handsome city pulls tourism into its bosom is part of what gives Edinburgh it’s almost unique charm.

I like nothing better than bumping into wide eyed travellers from abroad, hearing their experiences of Scotland so far, sharing a drink and conversation.

There are those I’ve met in the past who still keep in touch today, telling me every year how they plan to come back again one day – for Hogmanay.

And maybe they will.

Even if they don’t, those few minutes, hours or days will sit long in the memory.

There are those who simply won’t enjoy New Year because of other pressures, or because of illness, work or the fact that, sadly, they have no-one to share it with.

But that doesn’t give the fun police a right to try and ruin the event for others.

Anyone who has ever been among the jovial 80,000 crowd, squeezing past warm bodies and over discarded tin cans, will know only too well the feeling as the excitement mounts in expectancy as the clock nears Midnight.

Of how you cannot fail to be impressed by the explosion of fireworks overhead.

Or how the sweet embrace of a lingering kiss, from friends, loved ones or a stranger can make everything else in life melt away for just a second.

It has to be experienced at least once in life, just to say you’ve done it, to file it away.

As a son of Edinburgh, my only misgivings were way back when they decided to ‘organise’ Hogmanay and ticket the main areas.

It struck me that this tore out some of the old traditions of a guid Scots party – impromptu – when we would just show up, flash mob styley.

Yet in retrospect, given the scale involved, it was probably been the right thing to do.

Some of those same reservations surfaced again when I heard they were charging for the Loony Dook and trying to prevent ‘touting’ among residents in the key areas.

Yet, again, these are most likely understandable.

I was amazed to learn that the Dook, of which I have friends taking part tomorrow, attracted some 1000 people last outing.

Amazing for something that started out as just a daft dare in a pub some 25 years ago.

What will be of note is watching to see how the future of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is played out.

After all, Scotland’s biggest street party will have generated well over £30 million to the local economy in the past four years by the time the streets have been cleared again.

And unquantifiable publicity around the world.

So while the council has been unable to make a profit from it, you can well understand why there are those commercial firms who would be only too keen to try.

Perhaps then this Hogmanay may very well be among the last chance to enjoy the street party in its current guise.

And with a few tickets still available, worth the last minute effort to get along after all.

We don’t know what the future of the celebrations have in store for us, far less what the next 12 months will bring.

But let’s hope 2011 is a good one – whatever you do tonight.

And all the best for a Happy New Year ahead.

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