Would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our stereos? – Braveheart
As students continue to be consigned to house arrest, they’ll only get through this with the staples of Uni, drugs and rock’n’roll.
No sex please, we’re British!
And so in a nod to our future parliamentarians, pioneers and care providers.
Here are some old bangers which got me through my young days.
And the places it took me too.
With WC Handy in Memphis, Tennessee on my Deep South journey
On highway number 19 the people keep the city clean – Tina Turner, Nutbush City Limits
Nutbush City Limits and Tennessee (Ike and Tina Turner): And Nutbush was one to get everyone on their feet in the students’ union (alas no longer there).
Rosh Hashanah, Happy Jewish New Year, and because we want to see off this bloody year, and pray to Yahweh for a better new year, here is when and where all our cultures see out the old and bring in the new.
The Chinese New Year: And sitting down for our annual Chinese New Year celebration with Wendy Wu Tours in Dublin in January at Chai Yo we gave sympathy and Chinese tea (and every food known to man that you can eat with chopsticks) for the plight of the poor people of Wuhan.
Little did we know, of course, that we would be suffering too within weeks. The Year of the Rat should have been a warning.
Next year when it will be celebrated in February will be the Year of the Ox and he is much more our reliable carrier of all our human burdens.
And rest assured I’ll be back in Chai Yo next year with Wendy’s friends, the Two Johns, before hopefully we follow The Son and Heir out to Wuhan’s neighbour Chongqing.
Iran the bells
Nowruz (Iranian New Year): And there is a diary date in my calendar which I can’t bring myself to delete – my trip to Iran which was deferred after the Americans fell out with them again and then this virus came along.
I do hope that when I do get out there it’s in a March when they celebrate Springtime when it coincides with the Northward Equinox.
They trumpet in the day, colour eggs and eat a hearty soup, Ash-e-Reshteh noodle soup.
Sri Lanka is my cup of tea
Sri Lankan New Year: And here we have two Sri Lankan cultures celebrating a date, April 14.
Aluth Avuradda, the Sinhalese New Year, marks the end of the harvest and is one of only two occasions when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka.
You’ll be eating small oil cakes called kavum and plantain dishes.
The Tamils of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka celebrate with new clothes, music, sweets and rice colour kolams (street art).
The Tamil Diaspora too celebrate April 4… so Malaysia, yes, and The Maldives too where one pasty-faced Scotsman once became an honorary member of the staff’s football and cricket teams. Yes, Mr Jim is coming back to Kuramathi.
While if you’re Irish (lucky you) you’ll know about the greatest Sri Lankan-Irishwoman, my old friend Tess De Kretser and her Olcote in Ceylon resort.
Ethiopia will take years off you
Enkutatash, Ethiopia: And this has become a fixture on my calendar in Dublin over recent years thanks to my friends at Ethiopian Airlines.
It, of course, takes years off you, not just the meaty food which you scoop up with your bread, and wine and Ethiopian coffee.
But also because it’s on the Julian Calendar which means that this will take seven years off you.
Scotland, the home of Hogmanay
Scottish Hogmanay: And in the words of the greatest dustman in television soap opera Norman ‘Curly’ Watts who decided the Scots owned New Year.
Well, they do own Hogmanay. And why Hogmanay which is what we call New Year’s Eve.
An early reference to the term is from The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence as deriving from the Greek word agia mine or ‘holy month’.
More like a hooley though as many libations are taken to keep out the cold.
Which is probably where the tradition of bringing coal, shortbread and whisky with your when you go first-footing, being the first person to cross someone’s threshold (first-footing).
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO WHOEVER YOU ARE AND WHEREVER YOU ARE
Although obviously it turns into a nightmare if you end up on the losing side. My old New York brother and sister friends Tom and Kate informed me that if we were to remain friends then I’d have to pull for the Mets.
I even have the baseball bat and ball here with me on my desk to remind me.
While Kate has few illusions about her beloved Mets who lost the World Subway Series of 2000 to the ‘Damned’ Yankees. ‘They always break your heart, those Mets,’ she sighed.
Even before we got into the Kevin James sitcom, the King of Queens, I was already being pulled this way by my Uncle Eddie on my first trip to New York, after school.
Uncle Eddie, a proud son of Donegal, now living in Long Island supported the neighbouring Queens teams and particularly the New York Jets.
Whisper it but they’re no longer a Queens team, playing their games in New Jersey. As do their great rivals, the New York Giants. Yes, the same stadium, and that’s another subject we’ll get into sometime.
Then there’s ours
And the New Yorkers look to have embraced our football having flirted with it back in the day with Pele, Beckenbauer and the New York Cosmos.
New York City only has the one team their fans will be quick to tell you, in much the same way that their sister franchise Manchester City supporters will inform you that is the case in Manchester, with United playing in Salford.