So, did you achieve that long-pursued goal? Snare a new lover? Write an invigorating new chapter in your life? For me, the highlight of 2014 was getting through 12 months without having to don my increasingly ill-fitting black suit to attend a family funeral. I’m probably not alone.
A second Christmas without Mum came and went without quite the depth of grief that frequently struck me at the same time in 2013. I’ve had my moments, where life itself has suddenly lacked structure and all sense, where the knowledge she is manifest in my every breath has never seemed so distant, but mercifully these have been fleeting. The loss of my big, strong cousin Clark last November at the age of 41 reared its head more than once too: paramedics live for ever, right? Wrong.
No argument, this is a tough time of year for many. Call it a lack of vitamin D. Call it SAD. Call it whatever – the unrelenting dark, cold and wet make for a grim few months in northern Europe (on the upside, in early autumn the population receives an almighty jolt).
Strange, that it is the absence of others, of what were once constants, that makes you grateful for the very fact you are alive and able to derive joy from whatever takes your fancy.
For me, the most significant achievement of 2014 was finally “getting” whisky. Until that point it had been little more than a recurring fad. Just two weeks ago four friends and I gathered to, um, savour five exemplary single malts paid for by the simple means of squirrelling away a tenner a month each over the course of the year.
For the benefit of the connoisseurs among you, these included a 19-year-old 1995 GlenDronach finished in oloroso casks; a Springbank 18-year-old; and a sublime Adelphi bottling of a 24-year-old Linkwood. It all got a bit hairy towards the end of the night, as it damn well should, but the whiskies we took home will warm the cockles for a while yet. We’ve also invested in a cask of the first pour from the infant Harris distillery, so it’s the long haul for us. I’m sure Mum would approve – “easier on your back than golf”, she’d say. Amen.
It’s also been a year or thereabouts now since I began this column, so I’d like to raise a dram to yourselves and offer my sincere gratitude for sticking with me. I hope I’ve avoided repeating myself. I hope I’ve avoided repeating myself. Come the bells, I’ll remember loved ones who’ve passed, those still among us, and wish for a stellar year to come. Chin chin.
Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.