Glasgow Letter – 30.12.21

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I hope everybody has had a relaxing few days over Christmas and is ready to bring in the New Year.

Clearly, it will be a quieter New Year than many of us hoped for.

Two Hogmanays ago, I had a year off without a gig so I jumped in the Trail West van on December 29 and never looked back until the 2nd!

The boys played a gig in Talla an Iochdar in South Uist, had a full day of tunes and craic at John Alex McKay’s house in Torlum, Benbecula, then got the ferry to Uig for a big Hogmanay bash in the Broadford Hall.

One particularly funny memory occurred as we arrived at the hall. Earlier in the month, I had pre-recorded a programme for BBC Alba to go out on the 31st in which I presented highlights of BBC hogmanay shows over the years – right back to the 1950s.

When we arrived in Broadford Hall, one lady saw me and said: ‘What are you doing here?! I thought you were on the telly tonight!’

The next day, with a slightly cloudy head or two within the squad, we first footed Edinbane hall where The Cast Ewe Ceilidh band were playing for a New Year’s Day dance. It was an unforgettable few days full of wonderful music and great pals. It seems a very, very long time ago now. Unknown to us at the time, we would be locking down only a matter of months later.

The following Hogmanay could not have been more different. I spent it in lockdown with my mum and dad (I always escape home to the Highlands as soon as I hear a lockdown might be looming!) and, by 10.30pm, my folks were fast asleep on the couch and I was watching Still Game all by myself! I woke them up at midnight to bring in the bells with a dram but it was a far cry from the year before celebrating with a packed Broadford Hall. Only a few months ago, when the country was relatively restriction free, myself and the Trail West boys planned exactly the same extravaganza as two years previous.

Unfortunately, like everything else, that has fallen by the way side yet again but at least this year I have secured a promise from my Mum and Dad to stay awake and keep me company until at least midnight!

New Year, of course, doesn’t have to be about big dances and huge crowds cheering as the clock hits midnight and the piper plays Auld Lang Syne. It is primarily a time for reflection on the year gone by, hope for the year ahead, and memories of absent friends.

A quieter Hogmanay this year will give us all more time to do that. And, my goodness, there is much to reflect on after the last couple of years. Like everyone else, I will be hoping for a return to normality in 2022 but, for the time being, I wish you all whatever you would wish yourself for the coming year.