Saturday, December 30, 2006

Auld Lang Syne

It’s that time of year and no doubt in a few more hours, many of you will be cavorting around with funny hats on and linking hands to join in the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.” You may notice that there is a break in the chain – this will be because I shall be at home and tucked up in bed, leaving you all to get on with it as best you can. I’m sure you’ll manage.

Both my friends attribute my lack of interest in this New Year business to a generally dyspeptic attitude but they’re wrong. When I was a lad and eternity stretched before me, rather in the way that the Sahara Desert must look to the leading camel in the caravan train, I would be out there celebrating with the rest of you. But after all, it does happen every year and it gets a bit repetitious.

I did stay up to see in the year 2000 in the hope that all the computers in the world would crash so we could go back to pens and pencils, but I was disappointed. And before television, at any rate you could just get your New Year over and done with and go to bed, but now you have to watch all those other nations going through the same thing over and over again, just because they weren’t smart enough to get themselves on the Greenwich meridian.

I’m fond of champagne although I would mention to my creditors that I don’t make it my lifestyle, more vin ordinaire, to tell the truth, but I can assure you that one minute past midnight on January the First is not the optimum time to enjoy it. And it wouldn’t be half as bad if, at the stroke of twelve, you weren’t supposed to kiss your neighbour who I can assure you will have turned into a pumpkin at the very best by that time.

But for me the biggest downside is that, like a birthday, it marks the passage of time in a rather depressing way. And you’ve then got to remember to put the new year on your cheques, just another notch in your memory cells. As the poem says:

“And all the while behind I hear,

Time’s winged chariot drawing near.”

However, far be it from me to spoil your fun, so here’s a couple of bits of trivia with which you can regale your fellow merrymakers, ensuring that you won’t be invited to their party next year.

“Auld Lang Syne” is generally attributed to Robert Burns but, in a private letter, he claimed that he had merely adapted it from traditional material he had heard, adding a couple of verses of his own. Personally, I think he realised just how dodgy his spelling was and was trying to shift the blame.

None of your fellow revellers will know the words, unless they are members of the Scottish Nationalists, in which case they will not get past the first verse. This is where you can score. At absolutely no extra charge I am attaching the full Monty, or in this case, the full Robert, of the verses in the vernacular. I believe these were originally in English but no doubt Burns transcribed them from drunken Highlanders which might account for it. The result is that “Auld Lang Syne” is sung world wide, every nation believing that the lyrics are in their own language as they can’t understand them anyway.

So no matter how much champagne you have guzzled, your performance will have the stamp of authenticity.

And by the time you’ve reached the last verse, it will be New Year in Hong Kong – and all the other guests will have left.

Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?


For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gies a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.



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