Books in golden light, unread

1. It’s Hogmanay at last and time for many traditional things – fireballs, fireworks, Auld Lang Syne, First Footing tall dark men (never blonde men, who may be Vikings coming to ruin the party), Black bun and Whisky. If you are not Scottish, you may be a little confused, but Wiki will come to your aid in that link. Here in Edinburgh, we have the fireworks all around the castle, and the sound can be heard from one end of the city to the other.


2. It’s also the time of list making, looking forward with one eye and back with the other, and trying to mesh them into a perfect unity using paper and the tip of a pen, or a screen and the tips of your fingers.


3. I have come to realise that I’m not terribly proficient at lists. I like the idea of them, the cleanliness and order, but in practice, my mind just doesn’t enjoy working from point to point, outlying intentions so they can be carefully picked out later and put into effect.


4. Things inevitably get forgotten.


5. Or the lists themselves seem lopsided, and when I go back to make them shorter and clearer I don’t really know what to do. Shopping lists are the exception, but it’s hard to motivate yourself with a shopping list. Perhaps it’s also that I am not wedded to the idea of units of progression through life? Memory intruding and mucking things up, and the tangling of tangential threads, and periods of intense work, and periods of distraction.


6. The language of lists is too simple, but conversely, too precise.  Or perhaps I need to start writing and reading more poetry, which can be a clever form of list.


7.  Despite this, I do have my list, all book related. The picture at the top was taken a few days ago. I am struggling not to try and break open the new year early and open one. In fact, I think I will try to do that at the stroke of midnight, in between toasts and hugs and singing. I have a mild superstition that what you are doing at midnight on the 1st day will somewhat dictate the flavour of the rest of the year. So in 2010, it was a challenge of a year, because I was out in the cold to watch the show in Princes St Gardens, put out by the lack of tread on my boots, and nervous about slipping over on the frosted hill I was standing on. 2011 saw D and I quietly watching the fireworks over the East River in New York City from the roof of our apartment building in Queens – a sense of awe, and careful footing over the tar above our neighbours houses, so they wouldn’t be too disturbed by our movements, and happiness – and so it turned out to be, perhaps –


8. As it’s all in the interpretation, of course.


9.What ever 2012 brings to you, I hope the balance falls in the favour of goodness, whether orderly or mildly chaotic.  And so I wish you all a Happy Hogmanay in what ever way it is your custom to celebrate.



Filed under consolations of reading, Edinburgh, Planning, The Now

10 responses to “Listing

  1. CJ

    So would a Scot say Heavy Hogmanay instead of Happy New Year!?

    Your post make me want to go to Scotland, especially Ulster where my paternal great grandmother came from.

    Beautiful packages your posts, heavy in all the right ways.

    • We’d say ‘Happy Hogmanay’ and ‘Happy New Year’, and there would be a lot of hugging and handshaking, and swaying (for the singing of Auld Lang Syne). Hogmanay has been a bigger deal than Christmas here for a long time.

      You should come to Scotland, but if you can, do it when the weather is at its best. I get the feeling the nation is trying to scare away the damp and cold with all these festivities.

  2. Autumn is the best, in my opinion – just after the midgies have died, right before the rains set it. It’s the best chance you have of clear blue skies. That, or early May, before the midgies have hatched. I am placing a lot of emphasis on a small insect, but they really are a hazard in the Highlands – where you must go, if you do come. The Lowlands (where I live) don’t suffer from them, thankfully.

    I have recommendations by the score, should you ever make it over.

  3. CJ

    Is a midgie what in the american mid west we call a chigger? Tiny almost invisible insect in the grass leaves you raking your skin at night trying to ease the itch from their tiny bites. I was a tomboy and often covered by them.

    • Sort of, except they fly – more like a mosquito a little bigger than a full stop, but silent and in huge numbers. They take less blood than a mosquito, but there are more of them. They like to hang around still water and in still air – lots of peatland and bog in the Highlands means they are in great numbers there.

  4. nzumel

    I feel rather like you do about lists …

  5. I love lists. Seriously, really, love lists. They’re so neat and tidy and make the world seem easier inside my head. So there we have it.

    Also, Happy New Year! I was cosy in my flat this year, but I had an amazing view of the fireworks so all was well! Hope you enjoyed yourself 🙂

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