Most of us can remember a time when a birthday - especially if it was one's own - brightened the world as if a second sun had risen.
Robert Staughton Lynd, American Sociologist, 1892-1970
My forty-sixth birthday was two days ago.
It was a good day. Just as I would have wanted it. No presents and no fuss but best wishes from those that I care for most. In the morning I drank chilled, fresh orange juice and strong coffee. I ate the best croissants that money can buy - in a cut-price, Glasgow supermarket. In the afternoon, the small-town, provincial football club that I follow defeated our big city opponents to win a rare trophy. Our anthem, 'Paper Roses', reverberated around a Hampden vacated by the massed Celtic following, allowing thirteen thousand Ayrshire folk their day in the sun. If only I'd had a Killie pie to celebrate. Still, it was a good day.
I can't claim, though, that I felt 'as if a second sun had risen'. I am, however, starting to see one peeking over the distant horizon (exactly where one might presume a second sun would appear). That horizon is in the East, of course. And from here, in the west of Scotland, that means Edinburgh. Holyrood, to be exact
Despite the cold winds of this economic downturn with its chilly threats of austerity measures, credit rating downgrades and rising unemployment, I can't help but be warmed by the faint rays of this second sun. Each day, as it rises ever so slightly higher at that horizon, it touches more and more of our land and fills a few more of our people with a new hope and a new confidence in the future. As days turn into weeks and months, more of us turn to this source of illumination and peer, blinking, at how a new beginning might look.
And you know what? Despite a surfeit of forecasters telling us that 'a hard rain's a-gonna fall' an increasing number of us seem unperturbed. Many, indeed, are elated. Every day more of us see through the unremittingly negative rhetoric of desperation and ridiculous scare stories. We recognise the vested interests and the nests soon to be de-feathered and know that the purveyors of doom and gloom will become even more outlandish.
Tavish Scott: Shetland and Orkney may secede from Scotland and remain under London's governance.
Peter Hain: Spain will veto Scotland's EU membership.
Philip Hammond: We'll ensure Scotland will pay for removing Trident from the Clyde.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: England may be forced to bomb Scottish airports.
These are the latest attempts of the Scotland is 'too wee, too poor, too stupid' brigade who realised that not only was that approach falling on deaf ears but that it was acting as a recruiting sergeant for the Independence campaign - especially after a series of official UK Government figures showed that Scotland was a nett contributor to the UK Treasury rather than the drain on resources we were continually assured it was.
Nevertheless, some hard rains may fall (this is Scotland after all) and there shall be obstacles to overcome. If nothing else though, the Scots have always been an ingenious lot and I have no doubt that it is within the ken of my countrymen to deal with those obstacles.
Now, if only we could make the weather a wee bit better...