Fastidious sprites polishing holly-berries, the frosty carcasses of Grinches buried in snowdrifts; Scrooges redeemed, Marleys damned; strain-eyed shoppers haunted by commercial spectres and the demanding voices of their children; glistering grub, bubbling beakers from the north-east of France; bubblyjocks throttled and blushing robins rouged up for their annual performances; gin o'clock striking at noon. 'Tis the season! Christmas is upon us! An apt moment then for me to suspend all peat worrying for a few days, hang up my oxter-flaughter, abandon my bothy for a warmer and more convivial berth, pluck the Tom Weir bobble-hat from my brow, and sink into jovial relaxation.
Also, it seems a fine hour to say a wee word or two about the past twelve months. 2011 has been a interesting year for the blog, with a Holyrood election to contend with, agitating for my party, critiquing our opponents - and subsequently trying to unpick the whys and wherefores of the SNP's triumph, and what it might or might not presage for independence. Notable too, my sheep-trail-blazing association with Ecclefechan Mackay and the north west's organ of record, the Kinlochbervie Chronicle. To focus on what I see as my core utility as a blogger, 2011 has also been a year of trying to deal with the slew of interesting Scottish legal-and-political stories in an intelligible and informative way, whether on the UK Supreme Court's judgments on the legality of Holyrood's legislation on pleural plaques, to Cadder and Fraser and the subsequent political rumpus these decisions caused. Elsewhere, the SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament has prompted long-deferred questions about the legality of proposed Holyrood's referendum on Scottish independence finally to be posed in the mainstream media. Otherwise, probably the profoundest politico-legal controversy over the last six months has concerned the SNP's illiberal and misconceived Offensive Behaviour at Football (etc) Act.
For the future, pregnant questions include, what will come of Carloway's Review? Is Scotland's distinctive corroboration rule counting down the hours to its abolition? Having passed its Football Act, how will procurators fiscal and police use the very extensive powers it gives them? Will we see an increase in the number of football banning orders granted, given the named-offences and the heightened political atmosphere? In the high-end judicial line, with Lord Reed taking up Lord Rodger's vacant chair as a justice of the UK Supreme Court, who will be appointed to replace Lord Hamilton as the Lord President of the Court of Session? Interesting times, by any measure. There has also been the novelty of dewigging myself live on telly and shedding my-long-standing pseudonymity. Perhaps the most amusing consequence of this new and discombobulating experience was being described as a "boffin" by the academically discerning folk of the Daily Star.
The main reason I blog is because of the pleasure it brings me: the scribbling, the argument, hopefully contributing something otherwise absent from the Scottish public sphere. And I've exceedingly enjoyed the past year. I hope you all have too. So to my regular and irregular readers, to folk who've taken the time to comment and to blisteringly critique the propositions I've advanced here over the past twelve months, and to those who've kept mum, nodding along with or shaking their fists at yours truly, a very Merry Christmas and a Guid New Year one and all!
It may be that a tale irresistibly captures my imagination between now and then, momentarily prompting my lapse from the port-fug to rattle out some words. Otherwise, I'll be sharpening my goose-quills by the fire and giving the ink another stab come January. Slàinte!