​How can it possibly be Burn’s Night again?  On the premise that a large dram nearly hastened my demise thirty-three years ago – and the realization that yesterday being, now, a calculator away could have much the same effect – I tend to avoid any commemorative events in the name of Scotland’s National Bard in favour of self preservation.  Nothing beats a good ceilidh but sheep intestines masquerading as haggis washed down with whisky … I think not.  Not sure, either, whether I would have the stamina these days for a Strip the Willow.  Boy!  How I never ended up in a plaster cast is a miracle.  In terms of a workout, this quaint little Scottish country dance delivers and then some.  That, however, is with a normal partner.  In days gone by, one of my brother’s farmer friends would always seek me out for this particular dance and engage in multiple press-ups – in the name of preparation – beforehand, fully aware of my endeavours to escape.  Why me?  The answer would probably be, ‘It’s your face!’ as it was when I once asked the infamous John Miller, of university days, why he had teased me incessantly from the get-go.  You see, it’s all beginning to make sense now.
You know, I think I should apologise for blethering on about Brexit and politics last week.  I, myself, found it quite interesting at the time but I read over it some days later and thought someone else had written it!  I mention this because, of course, the big news in the last 24 hours has been the arrest and charging of former First Minister, Alex Salmond.  I detest him!  Not only for his politics but for his arrogance, aggressive manner and overwhelming lack of polish.  Driven by a massive chip on his shoulder and a quest for self-promotion, it is he who has been behind this incessant push for independence craving the end of the historic Union of 312 years regardless.  Nicola Sturgeon was merely his trained monkey; however, the monkey broke its shackles …  Did I mention that I have a deep-seated dislike of Alex Salmond?  I did.  That, however, was before he was charged on 14 counts, two being those of attempted rape.  Monster.  We who consider ourselves the superior race.  Greed, self-promotion, ego.  Full circle to my favourite, Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: Epistle III
‘And just as short of Reason he must fall,
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all.’ 
Moving on.  Actually, that concept is the reason for my newfound occupation.  Unpaid and all-consuming, showing potential buyers round one’s home falls short of enjoyable.  Adept at shoving all and sundry into anything resembling a cupboard, the ‘warm up’ then creates the problem of potential loss of great magnitude: not a hope in hell of remembering what went in which drawer or cupboard!  The act of taking strangers on a tour of one’s home should not be taken lightly, however.  It is, after all, an act; a performance requiring of great prowess as one purports enthusiasm whilst further denuding one’s privacy. (Methinks I may have slipped into ‘lovey’ mode – it is Oscar season after all!)  Suffice to say, last night’s viewers restored my faith and it was all I could do not to bring out the gin!  A lovely young couple who ticked every box – not in terms of potential buyers but as people.  Intelligent and friendly, they have just returned from travelling the world, and are looking for their first house having previously lived in London.  Full of a joie de vivre, their happiness was infectious and I was reminded, once more, that age is a number and one can meet and make friends in the most unlikely places.  The fact that Caroline used to work for Bombay Sapphire and Estee Lauder, to name but two, and has boxloads of said products, as a little reminder, looking for new homes …  A footnote: never disregard the mask of another.
I think I’ll work my way backwards through my notes starting with a reference to the Bank of Scotland.  Surprisingly, I am not a fan of online banking but the remaining facilities which exist in the real world are doing a sterling job of ensuring one has no choice other than to comply.  A visit to the George Street branch of said bank earlier this week involved near asphyxiation by air freshener coupled with enforced listening to completely unnecessary and inappropriate ‘noise’ whilst waiting to be served by one of the two only tellers of the human variety.  In a vast space, perfectly equipped for a more personal service, most of the staff – none of whom look old enough to vote, I might add – are on the frontline, armed with weaponry in the form of ipads, obeying instructions to interrogate any persons who dare enter with the fanciful notion of interacting with another human being.  Don’t be ridiculous.  There are machines for that!  My reply to the question ‘What is the purpose of your visit today?’  A look of disbelief whilst continuing to walk and muttering under my breath, ‘None of your business!’.  I have, indeed, morphed into my  mother!
I touched on the subject of background music in shops … one question, why?  A classical piece giving an ambience of calm, perhaps, in the appropriate environment but not everywhere!  Admittedly, there was a piper in Marks this morning, piping in the haggis, but do I really need to buy toilet roll to the accompaniment of Take That?  Am I missing something?  Perhaps it is all a grand master plan to drive shoppers back to their computers, sufficiently irritated to concede to buying online instead?  A world devoid of a face.  So much to look forward to!
My last note is regarding a programme called Naked Attraction.  Inflicted on the nation courtesy of Channel 4, it is a dating show wherein each week someone selects another (have to be careful here!) on viewing six naked beings in glass boxes, one section being revealed at a time.  Can I just clarify, here, that it is not something I choose to watch but merely a programme I have come across whilst flicking through channels.  Curiosity has dictated that I hover – momentarily!  It is horrific and a fitting indictment of the way the world is going.  Innocence has long gone.  There is no ‘second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning’ (courtesy of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan).  Neverland does not exist – well, certainly not in a world devoid of imagination … and that is, quite literally, all that remains.  No frills, no finesse, no whims, no dreams just bare floorboards (and it’d be too much to hope that they are oak!). 
Back to the point or original comment.  In the few minutes that I watched, the presenter asked the girl who was to choose one of the six whether she was agreeable to being referred to as she.  Alarm bells.  She then went on to refer to her as being ‘non-binary pansexual’.  That lost me!  Apparently this denotes someone who is not exclusively masculine or feminine and who is attracted to someone else regardless of gender.  Excellent.  The presenter then went on to describe the naked figures in the glass boxes, two of whom were in the process of transitioning …  Enough!  Is it any wonder the youth of today are subject to mental health problems in numbers off the scale?  This is not ‘normal’ and nor should it be portrayed as such.  Yes, one should be accepting of and respect that everyone is different – at the end of the day, it is the person that counts – but that is not the message being portrayed.  Far from it.  Instead, programmes such as this revel in a tendency to shock lending their support to the ‘tyranny of tolerance’ once again.  This is and you will accept.  I switched channel exercising my freedom of choice.
‘”You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming?  That’s where I’ll always love you.  That’s where I’ll be waiting.”’
Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie.
The power of imagination.  Solace in an ever-changing world.
This is Trish, signing off.