Perfect timing this year for the traditional “Mad Friday”, two days before Christmas.
The day passed in a celebratory haze for many, followed by a much-needed recuperation on Saturday, before the corks start popping once again on Christmas Day to another belly full of turkey and decorations.
Not everyone will make it to Friday’s party, for a variety of reasons. I will not be, along with many others of my time, who will be dazzled by a small bottle of Babycham these days.
I’ve experienced pre-Christmas craziness many times. But the absolute truth is that alcohol tolerance dips with age. And the hangovers you took in the first step bring immense misery and almost unbearable suffering.
As you get older, you may not drink less out of wisdom, but you will certainly drink less out of fear of a hangover.
However, this isn’t for the younger guys who will still be making the most of their first Frontier Crazy Friday in three years.
Two years ago there was a lockout on Friday. Last year it was omikron friday. Some pubs were open, at least in Inverness, but Nicola Sturgeon dampened the celebratory mood with an advice to “stay at home” amid growing concerns about a new strain of Covid.
And there were plenty of social distancing and rules of name, address, and contract that made a visit to a bar as spontaneous as a visit to the dentist for a root canal. Except at the dentist, you didn’t have to go through such a network of bureaucracy.
So any craziness was banished from the pre-Christmas celebrations during a wet Wigan category weekend. And it was in that direction, south of the border, that scores of Scots headed for Hogmanay, where the restrictions were far more severe than Sturgeon’s draconian style.
How far away it all seems now. Whatever anyone’s plans for Christmas, thank God it’s all over.
And it certainly is. Even at the end of the summer, Jeremiah’s last stand foreshadowed the reimposition of blockades. No choice. The people had had enough and Sturgeon, for all her autocratic tendencies, knew it.
So here we are, back with the merry Mad Friday. The police will be out in force as usual and the street pastors will be on the front line to comfort and help the squirming or staggering drunks.
But after what we’ve been through, the whole frenetic business is still very welcome, and infinitely better than the surreal downtown times we’ve been living through for the last almost three years.
How often did I fulfill my common and agreeable duty of taking that lovely, lovable Labrador, who is part of my daughter’s household, for a walk on the west side of the river, and gaze upon the silent and empty desolation of a deserted center of the city. This caused a real feeling of sadness. No people, no life, no noise, no energy. It was rough and it was depressing.
Well, that will be a distant memory this week.
Last weekend the city center was very busy and it was great to see. In normal times it has been tossed around often enough as a happy district to visit, but on a Saturday afternoon the bars I passed were doing a roaring trade and the restaurants were full of customers.
The mantra of sections of the media that can’t seem to print a good news story these days is that things can only get worse. And then you see and hear with your own eyes the laughter, the joy and the pleasure that many get from Christmas shopping, and it becomes clear that not everyone is immersed in a suffocating feeling of doom and gloom.
The city center was a lively place last Saturday.
So this Mad Friday let’s fix its lock and pre-omicron, because a lot of people have a whale of a time. In the evening I’ll take the dog for a walk west of the river and listen to the racket that runs through the center of the city.
And I hope it’s inaudible.