The Flambeaux Committee in Comrie must have supercharged their torches in advance of their walk through the town on Hogmanay, driving out the evil spirits of the Old Year. If a year can be said to have earned itself a bad reputation, 2016 has certainly done that.
An end of year column like this one is usually an opportunity to look back on the highs and lows of the year but this year has had a real sense of being one in which the former were far outweighed by the latter.
From the deaths of an unprecedented variety and number of iconic celebrities through widely unpredicted events in world affairs to the horrors we have seen in the devastation of Aleppo.
The dreadful attack on a Christmas market in Berlin brought back memories of both the bin lorry crash in Glasgow’s George Square two Christmases ago and the attack in Nice on Bastille Day this summer.
The George Square deaths were, of course, entirely unintentional but, just as in George Square, the victims in Berlin were ordinary folk, going about their business, preparing for Christmas; the parallels to the Nice atrocity are, of course, about intention rather than timing.
It is hard when we see events like this to remember that there is good in the world but Christmas is a good time to do that, a time to show that as individuals, as families and as communities and nations, we can come together both to celebrate what we have and to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.
Political news has been dominated by the unexpected victories for the Brexit campaign here in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US Presidential election but surely anyone who retained any lingering sense that these results represented some sort of victory for ‘ordinary folk’ – the voice of the overlooked and the dispossessed – will surely have been disabused of that by the time we saw that picture of Trump and Farage in the golden lift.
The millionaire and the public schoolboy stockbroker are not standing up against the elite, they are firmly part of a very particular sector of the elite – oh, they “want their country back” all right, but for themselves and their cronies.
For me, of course, there was a silver lining in all of those political clouds in the earlier part of the year. It was a great honour to have been elected once again to represent the people of Strathearn as part of the constituency of South Perthshire & Kinross-shire and to continue as a member of an SNP Government, elected for an historic third successive term of office.
Whatever 2016 brought for you, personally, let us all look forward to the coming year with hope and a determination to play our own small part in making our community, our country and our planet a better place.
A very happy New Year to one and all.