Happy Christmas to everyone and I truly hope that you are not reading this any time soon. If you are - please stop. It will wait - go and do something frivolous - enjoy yourself!
It’s just after 6pm now on Christmas Eve and I have completed all my preparations. This is well ahead of my previous efforts. Now it’s only the cooking left to be done. So I think a wee glass of vino is in order.
Since my last update, my liver has taken a hammering at two Scottish events the Scottish Benefits and Welfare Reform Conference and the Scottish Association President's, Joan Hewton’s, Christmas Reception in Edinburgh. The conference was as ever both interesting and challenging. Challenging intellectually but also a test of stamina: who’s last in the bar and will they make it to hear speakers later that morning? I don’t know who the last in the bar was because I’m a lightweight. No benefits conference can go by without mention of John Cunningham so hear I go. John is a great supporter of the Institute in Scotland. He is always the first to ask questions of speakers and if he doesn’t agree with the answer offered he will pursue it further. He is also a great musician who entertained us with his fine guitar playing in the bar following the Conference Dinner.
Joan’s reception was another excellent event and I thank her very much for inviting me.
One big disappointment for me is that I missed seeing one of my heroes at Crieff; as Billy Bragg was also staying at the Hydro. This week's Christmas music has been interspersed with some classic noise pollution "Talking with the Taxman about Poetry"; Levi Stubbs’ Tears can it get more heart rending?
Well I suppose I could drone on about the budgetary pressures facing local authorities, the revaluation in 2017, how council’s will cope with welfare reform etc. but I think we could all do with some respite from these topics for the next few days. I am however grateful that I am not personally affected by the need to claim welfare benefits and so the only part of the above which I will think about are those less fortunate than I am over this Christmas break.
The many disciplines that the institute covers generally have one thing in common the desire of members to work hard and do well. For the next few days at least please take a break; think about other things. I do accept those of you with screaming children may welcome some discourse on the revaluation. I would instead suggest that you marvel at how well Leicester City have performed. Premiership leaders at Christmas! And the Jambos third in the SPL, all is well in sporting world this week.
Having got that off my chest there is now only one thing left for me to say I hope you will all have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year when it arrives.