It's now the evening of the 4th of January, and for the first time I feel normal this year.
The reason why? First footing. This is a tradition where people visit each others houses after the "bells" have been rung to celebrate the new year. Traditionally, I think you were supposed to take a lump of coal or peat. Women were supposed to enter a visitors house after the man, as it was bad luck for a woman to go in first, or something.
Here, mucho merriment with food and drink awaits first footers on Berneray. And it's a tradition that can go on for a long time; I've done it for the past three years, and always ended up home after dawn. However - something to remember here is the generosity of spirit measures. Shortly after moving here, a local dropped in. Being willing to show social generosity, I offered him a dram; he accepted and I poured what would have been considered a generous double in a pub.
A look of disappointment and disgust flickered across the face of my guest. Something was possibly muttered in Gaelic.
When you go first footing, you realise why. If you accept a dram (does anyone dare refuse?), you end up being poured something more akin to a quart. And that's how I ended up drinking, in total, a large quantity of whisky during the first 8 hours of 2007. Which on it's own wouldn't have been too bad - but it was complemented by several cans of beer. Oh, and before leaving the house, I was already fuelled up with several mugs of mulled wine and a few gin and tonics. Ach, that must have been some battle in my stomach; certainly felt like it the next day.
January 1st is a public holiday in many countries. However, January 2nd is, unusually, also a public holiday in Scotland. There's a good reason for that. It's to recover from Hogmanay. I needed the 1st, 2nd and 3rd to get over the effects of the self-inflicted condition. I'll never drink again. Till the next time.