Tag: Scotland

Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hogmanay

Forty-three years ago, I was preparing to celebrate my third and last Hogmanay in Scotland, an event that is celebrated as widely as Christmas in that country.

For those of you not familiar with Hogmanay, it is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the New Year’s Eve celebration that lasts until the next morning. It is an experience you never forget nor never totally remember.

For a little perspective, four decades ago the western industrial world was still in the grip of an Arab oil embargo. Many Americans were still sitting in lines to buy gas and the price of that commodity was beginning its steady rise that led to the 1973-74 stock market crash. Prices of oil helped fuel hyperinflation for the remainder of the 1970’s.

However, the U.S. national debt was still below one trillion dollars and would not breach that benchmark until seven years later with the economic policies of Ronald Reagan and the total lack of fiscal discipline in Washington since.

Watergate was still much in the news and Richard Nixon was in his downward spiral which ended eight months later when he became the only American president to resign from office.

Scotland and the entire United Kingdom would shortly experience a second coal strike in three years, which would lead to a general election and the downfall of the government of Prime Minister Edward Heath, but also to the eventual rise of Margaret Thatcher five years later.

And the Soviet Union was still perceived to be a colossus threatening world peace while China was not far removed from its Cultural Revolution, its backyard steel furnaces and its ‘Great Leap Backward.’

Much has changed in the intervening forty plus years, but those changes are a mere microcosm of the changes in the world since the Scottish poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns wrote his Hogmanay and New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788.

May you all have a blessed, prosperous and Happy New Year in 2017.

The Scottish Independence Vote – Update

Does the question of Scottish independence really matter to the people of the United States in general and South Carolina in particular?

Of course, any vote on the question of secession should viscerally matter to all South Carolinians considering the state’s history. Secession votes should be important to South Carolinians even (or is that especially) if their political views are limited to the extreme parochialism of the ultra-conservative, states’ rights genre.

As a colony, South Carolina seceded from Great Britain months before the Declaration of Independence brought the other colonies into the fold. And no native son or daughter can forget when South Carolina led the way to the Confederate States of America by being the first state to secede from the Union.

Gable Remembering Thatcher’s Britain

The passing of Margaret Thatcher brings to end the life of one of the remarkable political personalities of my lifetime.

The “Iron Lady” is a sobriquet that was well earned and will always evoke her image. Above all else, she was tough.

The U.S. Navy, in its infinite wisdom, stationed me at a little base in eastern Scotland from 1971-74. I remember “Thatcher the milk snatcher”, as she was called when she was Minister for Education, from first-hand experience.