A Hogmanay Accounting

This is the true dawn of auld age: when Hogmanay becomes an opportunity to sit in a grim-faced determination not to cry, as opposed to an excuse for the hoose to become party-central.

I remember my Mother succumbing to this noli me tangere- ness – and feeling this boiling impotent rage with her that she could be so selfish as to waste our (my) party-feeling.

It’s crept up on me. Gradually seeping into the cracks and crevices left by regrets and sorrows and just the sheer weight of memory.

Until it is now this deep, backward-looking sadness that consumes.

So I spent the hour before midnight feeling embittered. Twisting in an incomprehensible wrath about lifelife that dared to take people I loved and that seemed hell bent on proving that there was no hope.

That’s what New Year is, increasingly.

I’ve reached that mental fulcrum – the tipping point where there is more stretching out behind than stretching out before. It’s an accumulation – an accretion – of loss and of memory. I’ve done more than I can ever do again. The largest part is gone. And whilst I’m not advocating shuffling off I’m aware that there is more painful loss ahead. That makes hope a bit of a bugger to cling onto.

But I do. I did. Eventually.

Megan and Robert pressurised me into going down to the Square for the Bells and fireworks. I went with a bad heart.

And stood on the cusp of the crowd, feeling like the unwelcome witch at a christening; the ghost of Christmas past; a ghoul. The deliberate cheering and toasting happiness surrounding me triggering only a deep resentment and increasing this sadness. I was dark and brimful of spitefulness and just wanting to be gone up the road. When my aunt embraced and kissed me with the traditional ‘Happy New Year!’ I felt the surging want to cry or run away.

I think it was for Iain who was gone. Iain who could be a bastard curmudgeon but was precious. It was for Erin who smiles through her leukaemia – but it is not fair, not fair at all that she has to suffer. It was for the end of a difficult year.

I’ve heard – too often this year – that it is darkest just before the dawn.

One of those cliches said when we don’t know what else to say or how else to console.

In so many ways this year has felt like one long night.

All the things I’d previously held onto being carried away in one long powerful egress. Like the things that made me me had been exhaled. Spat out.

I’m ashamed now by the faith with which I’d held onto ‘political solutions’. By my refusal to accept that there was not one perfect answer out there, somewhere  which would prove our social saviour – if we (I) just looked hard enough and thought long enough. Or by what surely is just a wilfully stubborn refusal to own and accept the inevitable: that our children have to make their own way and in doing so they move on, leaving us behind.

Or even just by the everydayness which I allowed myself to escape into.

I know there’s a time for us all (numerous times for us all) to take stock and to review. New Year’s as good a time as any. Though I’d much prefer getting rat-arsed drunk and rolling into bed around 7am (as we’ve always previously done).

The walk to the Square was enough to shake me out of the miserableness. Though it was a deathly quiet one we all had. Dougal first-footing us at 1.30am and staying until 3am.

There will  be other times I’ll feel as angry with myself and the world. It would be daft to think there won’t be. And those times have their uses.

Today I sit in a cold house, hugging the oil-filled radiator (because if I light the wood-burner it’ll smoke me out of the living-room), writing this between work calls and feeling old but grateful.

Because that review was also an accounting. 

I am alive and like the world. What I have or face – well, it is of my own making. And I’ll be dead for long enough.

So now is for living, not lamenting.

Plenty folk will have sung out the old year with Burns’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’. This ‘Selkirk Grace’ is attributed to him – and it fits my mood (if not my belief system).

I am thankit.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit. 



10 thoughts on “A Hogmanay Accounting

  1. I’m hearing this hard. I was just thinking today about how things seem to have started piling up on me – only the bad things though. First this happens? Then this? And this? Fuck, how much more can I bear? Whereas all the blessings seem to slip out from under one another like silk sheets.

    Keeps me coming back to the Buddhist necessity of letting go of fear (“fuck me, what next will be added to this massive serving of shit on my plate?”) and of hope (“these good things that are happening need to last forever!”) as the only way of getting through this life in one piece.

    • And yet – the resulting ‘serenity’ scares me a bit. Loving everything and everybody has always smelled suspiciously like ‘not caring a damn about fuck all’ – indifference…
      What are we here for – if not to experience – to use our feeling and thinking selves – to use all of what we arrive here with. Even if that causes us fear or pain or…
      Mind you – usually I repeat frantically ‘this too shall pass’ when it’s all too much.
      Letting go of that false consciousness – the one that leads us to believe we can control it all or that happiness is the only goal worth pursuing or that my fear is all-consuming – and replacing it with ‘boring middle-aged moderation in all things’ is where I’m at. But sometimes I miss the huge highs and lows of younger me.
      I feel ancient. I was on a training course (fucking hate them but that’s another thing) – I’d been asked a question and was answering and at the end this younger woman exclaimed ‘My God what age are you? You’ve done so much!’ I’m at that age where I’ve got to edit parts of my experience out because nobody has the time to listen to it all. Hilarious. If it didn’t piss me off so much.

  2. A quite remarkable précis of what is obviously a very complex set of feelings. For me, and they may not be your choices, the two sentences or statements that stick out the most are ” I’ve done more than I can ever do again.” and “So now is for living, not lamenting.” In relation to the first statement, yes, you have already done more than most of us will ever do. The difference is that your standards and expectations are so much higher than those of the Great Majority. I was much older than you are now when I suddenly realised how bloody brilliant life can be if one stops dwelling on all the changes to the world one hasn’t made and possibly looks at all the things one has achieved. When he died our son, Andy, had a high social conscience, was successful and was just finishing his doctorate. I stopped lamenting everything after he died when realised just how futile lamenting was. I’ve never looked back and I’ve never been happier. And a day never goes by when I don’t think of him.

    • I thought of you, GB. As I was writing this I thought of how you had suffered that unspeakable loss – and yet emerged one of the strongest, kindest and most positive person I’ve met. But you’re right. A life spent in lament is a living death – it’s no tribute to any lost loved one.
      Thanks for your kind words.
      Apparently I am a ‘multipotentialist’. This is ludicrous new speak for a ‘jack of all trades’… In my case it just means I’ve never quite been able to settle to the one thing…
      Hope all is well with you (though I do catch up via the blog). x

  3. One thing I have come to admire about blogs is the way people speak openly about things they usually keep quiet about unless the beer opens them up. This is often healthy I feel.
    As I age I wonder why so many good folks are taken and rail against the way things are. Grumpiness I have discovered increases with age as does a wiser sense of reality. At least folks tell me somewhat willingly that my grumpiness has increased.
    There is no answer for these things, life happens to us all and how we cope is all that matters.
    I cope by giving it to Jesus who never fail either fails me or gives me all I wish for. The latter is somewhat irksome. This way I can cope with the many strains but strains and stresses will come.
    Hopefully you will continue and make life better for those around you by continuing.

    (I am known as http://adullamite.blogspot.co.uk/ but WordPress will not allow this to be used)

    • WordPress is crap. I thought I was being a smart-arse moving from blogger but… and now it’s too much to move again.

      But it’s a blog and I do like the catharsis the medium offers – hence the honesty (though I tend to speak (and I speak mostly in a Shotts accent/dialect) as I see, so my written voice is probably a bit more burnished and polite than my spoken…).

      ‘Grumpiness’… symptom of that very useful skill, ‘clear-sighted-ness’…

      I’ll away and visit your blog. Thanks for dropping in. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s