Auld Acquaintance.

At this time of the year, when it becomes necessary to explain to Americans that no, it is not ‘New Years’ but ‘ ‘New Year’s Eve’ and exactly what is meant by ‘auld lang syne’ (try explaining that to a dancer, I dare you) it occurs to me to step back and remember He who makes our little community possible.

Those of us who lived through the Great Migration might perhaps have a more pronounced wet spot for our own Dear Leader than newcomers but let’s all of us take a moment to think of Noje and thank him for sticking with us through yet another year. As our world contracts to a few blogs and reruns of That 70s Show, it’s important to keep close to our collective heart those balmy days of yore when our hopes were high and happiness seemed to be within our reach.

Our New Year anthem was composed by Robert Burns, poet, drunkard, Stinquer avant la lettre, who died in the gutter, forgotten, penniless. As the resident Scot let me now remember his words:

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

It’s a question. Should we remember the past? Or is it too painful?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syn?

He rephrases the question. Auld lang syn (the spelling I prefer) is time long since gone. He will develop this idea in the refrain:

For auld lang syn, my jo, (dearest, darling, in the vernacular)
for auld lang syn,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syn.

We’ll cherish what’s past, hold on to the past and drink to it. Another refrain:

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 syn.

Meaning, when you get to Sandy Eggo you can buy your own beer and I’ll buy mine. Meaning that we’ll both have the money and ability, birks and/or socks notwithstanding.

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

‘Braes’ means hillsides. In the Scotland of my boyhood this was a world of heather and fine bright days, tablet (toffee) and cloutie dumplings, coal mines, exquisite kippers, and my grandmother’s endless attempts to have me baptized into the kirk. For the Sassenachs among us, heather is a wiry shrub that grows two to three feet high and which blooms purple or white in the late summer turning the hills into splendour. The poet here remembers an idyll of youth when ‘we twa’, the two of us, spent our days picking wildflowers before the cares of life descended in what can seem at times to be a never-ending stream of misfortune or, as the Scots say, ‘shite’.

In the next refrain the poet gives voice to a particularly lovely image:

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

We two once paddled in the brook/stream
From morning till dinner,
But since then oceans have come between us
Since the old days – implying youth, childhood, boyhood, girlhood.

Then he continues:

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syn.

Here’s my hand, old friend.
Give me your hand in return.
And we’ll take a good-will drink together (waught pronounced wo-cht, with a long aspirated blowing of breath somewhere between the wh of who and the ch of choose, a particularly scottish sound; eg. Loch, och, )
To remember the old days we shared.

And so on. You all know the tune. You can see in the dialect the lingering remnants of the fierce old tongue, when Scots were the terror of the north, when the Romans built a wall to keep them out, before the English fenced the commons and destroyed the clans. (sidebar: tartan is a fabric woven in a particular pattern to denote clan allegiance; plaid is the long rectangle of tartan a man wears over his shoulder and which, in inclement weather, is unfolded to become a cloak. The two should not be confused. I will gladly demonstrate the correct technique for marching while wearing a kilt next time we meet. Hint: It’s all about the ass)

So let’s take a moment to remember Rabbie (as my mother insisted on calling him), staggering about the streets, puking in doorways, and our own dear Noje, flexing his toes in Sandy Eggo as cats play with his iPad.

And let’s wish him long life and happiness.

Here’s tae us.
Wha’s like us?
Damn few!

PS. Image is of random Scot. We all look like that. It’s not porn it’s fashion.


I thought you all looked like either heroin addicts or Groundskeeper Willie.

Is there a linque to the history of this Great Migration, for noobs such as I?

Don’t get me started on “traditional” tartan patterns and the Sobieski Stuarts’ Vestiarium Scoticum. (Another resident Scot by blood, here.)

One of my goals in life is to drink my way across Scotland. I’m preparing by watching “Case Histories” on PBS Mystery and trying to figure out WTF they are saying.

Re Nojo, let’s have a fine single-malt in respect and appreciation for his inexplicable dedication to our company of the disaffected. I await his move to LA so I can take him to Dodger games and see if he dares slog through a Dodger Stadium men’s room in the late innings, in Birkenstocks.

@nojo: Maybe Groundskeeper Willie gets his name from “willy waught” in the song? And yeah, what Benedick said. Thanks for herding the cats around here.

@Dodgerblue: Edinburgh is pretty awesome.

What a beautiful New Year’s Eve post, Benedick.

Best wishes to all you Stinquers, may the good outweigh the bad in 2012. I know, for me, it can only get better.

I have a second interview for a job on Tuesday. Unless I make some gross faux pas, I think I’ve got the job. Hooray! Did I set some kind of land speed record in job hunting?

Hear , hear – good health and lots of happy-ish* moments in 2012 to all. I’ll stand Nojo a cold one sometime this year, I hope. For now, I’ve got the Bombay on the shelf for a nite of martinis and stay at home festivities with the family, and the Dog, which is apparently here to stay.

*We’re Stinquers, we don’t generally try harder.

Thanks to nojo and thanks to Benedick for this great post and thanks to the regular commenters who seem to have opinions about everything and thanks to the hit-and-run commenters who will drop by with the occasional bon mot. When the Mayans return next December Stinque may prove that sufficiently intelligent life exists on Earth and delay the planetary do-over.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut:

Congratulations!! And happy New Year to all. Ms. Still and I are off to a bluegrass New Years Eve concert. May you all have a good way to see in the year of the Mayan Apocalypse.

Thanks to Benedick for a delightful post and Nojo for keeping us around.


Ms. Still and I are off to Edinburgh (and related points) next August. When it gets closer I’ll ask for pointers.

Muchas gracias, Nojo.

¡Feliz año nuevo, Stinquerinos!

Random Scott.


BREAKING HARD AND FROTHY: Santorum surging to #2, a new poll out shows him with 21% support to Mittens’ 24%, two days before the Iowa caucuses.

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register clarifies that this is only in the past two days’ of polling that Santorum is at 21%. A longer period of polling shows it as Mittens, 22%; Paultard 21%; Frothy Mixture 15%

Which still indicates a recent surge of Santorum…where will the level be by Tuesday?

Hey — think we’ll ever get the MSNBC ad back? Not that the other one doesn’t bring the LULZ.

ETA: I’m getting a link to “Presidential Candidates UNCUT!” Wonder what CrazyEyes has to say about that.

The post on Gawker about grown men who love My Pretty Pony made my day. They call themselves “bronys.” How sweet–ha!

@JNOV is coming undone: Never. We’re too fucking potty-mouthed for them.

@nojo: So, say we don’t curse for like a week or something?

@nojo: Fuck yeah!

@¡Andrew!: Hasbro better not have fucked with Princess Sparkle Pony! (I even logged on to Gawker for the first time in months to share that sentiment).

@SanFranLefty: Nine months and nine days for Brand G. I gave up on The Jez when they executed Jamie Sommers.

@SanFranLefty: Now that Santorum is rising, we should start preparing for the inevitable fail. To that end, I offer:

“Santorum leaves a bad taste in Republican voters’ mouths”.

Happy new years fellahs! I wish I could say that I’m confident 2012 will be better than 2011, but I suspect it’s going to be anything but. I know that I, for one, am fully consigned to the likelyhood that I will experience nearly uninterrupted heartburn worrying that a largely ineffectual president will not be re-elected to preside as an impotent head of state over a government in which the GOP probably control both houses of congress and the Supreme Court. It’s going to feel like sitting in the hospital praying that the doctor who is examining you will report that you’re lucky: your gangrenous leg can be amputated below the knee, and not above it as you feared

@SanFranLefty y ¡Andrew!: I linked to the NSFW MLPs, right? If not, here ya go. WARNING! EXCESSIVE FLUTTERCUSSING!

Happy New Years to my Steenks. Best wishes, good fortune and good health to all.

Scotch I like.

Scot I like.

Happy New Year Eve everyone. Benedick, thank you very much for the translation. I wish that I had a sample of wee heavy to tip for the occasion. Alas, Old Peculiar will have to do.

I am quite happy to say farewell to 2011. Hope the new year will be better for all of us. SUre, as @Serolf Divad notes, the election year is going to be grim, but at least if things turn out badly we have the hope that the Mayans were right and we never have to see Gingrich inaugurated.

And many, many thanks to nojo for keeping the place that keeps me sane up and running. Lovely post, Benedick.

@Mistress Cynica: Yes, but we live for election years! Let the games begin.

I’d praise Bene, but his head is quite large, you know. Gets stuck in odd places like between banisters and crib rails.

@DElurker: We still have yet to make an executable plan. Still have my email address?

@JNOV is coming undone: “Gets stuck in odd places like between banisters and crib rails.”

Okay, you owe me a sip of wine, because I sprayed it on the floor so it wouldn’t hit my new computer. Lots of love and happy new year to you, especially. I hope 2012 is more calm and peaceful for you than the clusterfuck of this year.

@Mistress Cynica: The Mayan End of Days is the day before my 40th birthday. Coincidence? I think not. I better get to fucking, drinking, swearing, and blogging on Stinque for the next 355 356 (damn Leap Year!) days.

On the brighter side, presidential election years = summer Olympics years. Lots of hotties playing soccer and volleyball, running, swimming (sigh!) and generally sweating and engaging in what Benedick calls Sport. In other words, brace yourselves for SFL’s Hotties of the Olympics series.

@SanFranLefty: I promise more than a sip! And YES! Summer Olympics! And Ryan Fuckin’ Lochte! I’d bang that boy to Armageddon and beyond!

Happy New Year, all. We gave the bagpipes a miss and turned in early.

I’m bracing myself for the endless yearly roundups but I must say I was shocked this morning to see that in the Iowa poll Bachmann is trailing Santorum. Which is surprising to me because god knows they have enough douches lying around to avoid that sort of thing.

@Walking Still: Bad taste indeed.

@JNOV is coming undone: Hope you’re OK today.

PS. Saw a marvelous movie yesterday entitled Weekend. About the corrosive effect of being gay in a straight world. Brilliant. Best thing like it I’ve seen. It’s also a very well-told love story that applies across any orientational divide. No preaching and you never quite know where it’s going next. I suspect it began life as a play – there’s a slightly schematic aspect to the story that is there but not stressed – but that’s just my imagining.

No one’s gorgeous; no one’s witty; no one works in fashion; no one wears $3,000 suits; no one’s been to Key West – though you might be interested to see the impact of the idea of America on the characters. The characters lives’ are utterly convincing; acting, direction, writing, all first class. Don’t miss it. It’s streaming on Netflix. BTW, it’s hard at first to understand the dialogue but it gets better as it goes on. It’s set in Nottingham.

@Benedick: Yes, Darling. MUCH better, but the antibiotics and prednisone are kinda messing with me. But I can breathe! Some minor wheezing and occasional coughing, but I am so much better. Thank you for asking, Bene.

Weekend — might take Netflix off vacation mode or whateverthefuck to see this film.

How was the haggis? And how does one properly pronounce “risotto”? Not like a Scot would know, but humor this Philadelphian?

“Momentum is with Santorum,…” I HATE it when that happens!

@JNOV sees you drivin’ ’round town with the one that she loves and is like, Haiku!: I was trying to find an American sound like the short covered O in Britspeak (top, off) and you don’t have it without it shading into an ah or aw. Who’s to say that my way of sounding it is the correct one (of course it is but let’s pretend for a moment) So maybe that’s what’s going on with her. Though as a food person I would have expected her to try to approximate the Italian sound instead of drawling out the Ohhhhhhhhh. I’d say ri-so-tto. All the syllables short and sharp.

Glad you can breathe. I’ve had that a few times and it’s pretty unpleasant.

No haggis. My days of eating chopped sheep lung, oatmeal and spice packed in a pig bladder are over. The Scots are great ones for blood puddings, potted head and heel, and spiced meat in various casings. All of which are very good, if you like that sort of thing. I actually think of haggis as being more traditional for Burns’s Night – don’t ask me when that is – when it is piped to the table and those till sober try to eat it.

@Benedick: I saw Weekend and had mixed feelings. On the one hand, both the leads were superb. It takes significant talent to make a quiet little film compelling and realistic. The cinematography and direction brought us right into the scenes, almost like we were following these two blokes around.

On the other hand, I could barely understand what the characters were saying because of the poor sound quality. It might have been the audio through Netflix, but it seemed more like the film was fitting right into the mumblecore genre, with lots of dialogue unintelligible to the audience, like partially overheard conversations at a party or the intersection of home video and reality teevee. Also, I was turned off by the massive quantities of drugs consumed. Jumpin’ jeebus, I’m all in favor of having Good Times, but it really delegitimized the characters’ emotional journey. Were they falling in love or was it the truckloads of booze, pot, and cocaine talking?

@¡Andrew!: Intimate, yes, but I didn’t think it was little. It packs a huge amount of thought and import into its very contained space. The speech is a problem: I couldn’t agree more. I did find, however, that the stuff I didn’t get wasn’t important. That’s my excuse. And the accents in general would make it harder for an American audience. The hubby found it harder than I did but then he can’t understand the Scots or Northerners whereas I can. I thought they were making a virtue of the fact that they didn’t have the budget to make a full-scale sound design. Some of it is improvised but nowhere did I get that feeling that stuff was being whispered or mumbled for the sake of it. But you’re right, it’s hard. I found I didn’t care as I began to be drawn into the story, which is brilliantly told. And when the writing comes through it’s very fine. Some wonderful scenes. Russel ‘coming out’? Oh sweet Lord. Completely undid me. The story’s achingly sad climax on the platform?

The hubby would agree with you about the drink and drugs. I thought the writer/director was doing something different. I thought that the vast amounts of both that were consumed were demonstrating ways that many gay men have learned to cope. I thought it was part of the ongoing story bubbling under: Russel’s fear of telling his best friend about Glen; hiding at work, pretending that no one knows; Glen’s impatience with how mealy-mouthed the English are, his desire to get to the wider horizons of the US. We have internalized shame to a large degree and it’ll take years for that to change. And the men in the story seem to be still coming out of the daze of the past, not yet finding their feet, afraid to touch each other in public, yobs calling them names on the street. As they fall in love – so beautifully done – they come out of the haze of intoxication into a new state they are able to see each other in a new way. I may be over-compensating because I loved the film so much I wanted all of it to be right. The plot point that I couldn’t figure out was how Russel had a council flat when he wasn’t married.

I found it such a pleasure to see something so thoroughly achieved, no manipulation of the audience, no shoving it down your throat, no preaching, no uplift. But a rock solid sense of people in a particular place and time trying to find a way to connect.

There’s also a fine Franch movie entitled The Man of My Life which is worth watching. Again, it charts two people falling in love with a good deal of shrewdness. It’s all chic romance but very well done.

@Benedick: You’re right about them using drugs as an analgesic for internalized homophobia. I hadn’t thought about it that way.

I mistakenly conflated it with the copious drug use in other Brituation Dramadies that I’ve been watching, like Skins and Misfits. I keep expecting Lady Sybil to knock back with a fat spliff on Downton Abbey.

Shit. If you can understand Trainspotting after five minutes, you’ve got it made.

Downton Abbey <– I call it DownTown Abbey, because downtown is rife with abbeys.

If Weekend is going to make me cry, forget it.

@¡Andrew!: That’s just my idea of it. Haven’t seen those other movies. But I think that’s what that movie’s about. And I thought that it used a story about two men falling in love to explore the way we all tend to devalue our most essential inner self. Unless you’re Madonna.

@JNOV sees you drivin’ ’round town with the one that she loves and is like, Haiku!: Crying is good for you. Wrap a hand towel around your head. Downton Abbey second season. I know it won’t turn out well for Lady Mary. But at least she was spared the shame of eloping with a foreigner.

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