I am writing this in the dying, dreich days of 2015. I thought we were promised a glimmer of sunshine today (Monday), but the sky is heavy and overcast as per usual.
One consolation is that the heating doesn’t need to blast out, which helps reduce the heavyweight energy bills, but my spring bulbs are in for a bit of a shock if we have a sudden drop in temperature. They already think spring has sprung.
But my teeny travails – heavy cold hacking cough throughout this festive season – shrivel to nothing when compared to the suffering of so many ordinary people throughout this planet.
I know it looks braw from space, but zoom in and it’s not a nice place to be. Starvation, war and vengeful weather, much of our own making, are the dreadful lot of so many of Earth’s many people.
So, I find this year end, as with other year ends, a time of reflection: personal, professional and simply as one of the lucky few not living with the hail of bullets, the downpour of bombs, the drought and fierce floods.
I find time in recess for my children and grandchildren. I find time for my brother and sisters. I even find time for myself. The emails running at over 150 a day, for the most, dry up over Christmas and New Year, and my staff have a well-earned break.
So what lies ahead? Do you want the bad news or the good news first?
Let’s start with the bad news. There will be another election on May 5, 2016, and, yes, I am standing again. After that there will probably be another referendum, UK-wide on Europe this time. I know – even I agree as a politician – too many elections.
However, better to have the right to democratic elections, even, if like buses, there isn’t one to be seen – then they all come along at the same time.
The budget cuts have still to work through the system at national and local level because whatever the spin, the UK deficit is not closing, but going up – that is the difference between what we earn and what we spend. That difference is now £8.2billion.
That can only mean more spending cuts from Westminster. Worse – let me get this over with – the UK debt, overdraft to you and me, is £1.48trillion and the interest we are paying on that “overdraft” is projected to amount to £1billion per week.
Now, I wouldn’t know what a billion, let alone a trillion, looks like if I fell over it. But I do know that it would provide more nurses, build more homes to rent and fill in the bloomin’ potholes and put a stop to benefits cuts and foodbanks.
The good news? Well surely this damp unseasonal weather must lift and we shall have sunshine and sparky frosty days – and spring where it belongs.
Oh, and I have been promised by Scotrail that it will correct “Sto” to “Stow” in the New Year, though I will miss the fun when the unfortunate woman announces “Sto” – and everyone choruses “Stow!”.
It’s put Stow more on the map for non-indigenous travellers than anything else could do. And sorry my good news list is so short…...