Well, did you sing it? Worse, did you put on a kilt and sing it? Worst of all, did you drink half a bottle of malt whiskey and sing it?
I am referring, of course, to Robert Burns' song "Auld Lang Syne." No song not even Lennon and McCartney's "Yesterday" can match its status as an authentically global anthem. Last night, as the bells struck midnight to usher in the New Year in one time zone after another, literally tens of millions of people sang it, beginning in Auckland and ending in Alaska.
Only a tiny minority will have sung it in tune, but what the hell. Whatever else 2006 may bring, a proper Scottish New Year's makes one thing absolutely certain: The year will start with a fearful hangover.
G-d knows I have had a few of those. But not this year. No "Auld Lang Syne" for me. No kilt. And no whiskey. To be absolutely sure of escaping my Caledonian heritage, I have fled south to Cape Town, no less. And as you read this, the only headache I fear is from the golden summer sun.
For I have finally reached the parting of the ways, as eventually happens to all of us Scottish emigrants. We go through a long period, which can last up to 20 years, of telling whoever will listen to us that Scotland is G-d's own country; that its Highland scenery is matchless; that its people invented all that is worth preserving in the modern world Scotch, golf, economic liberalism, er, penicillin, television and … Scotch.
Yes, that was me. For two decades I tiresomely corrected anyone, my wife included, who dared to confuse the terms "English" and "British." I banged on tediously about the superiority of Scottish education, Scottish law, Scottish rugby, Scottish water, Scottish tweed, Scottish holidays you name it. I quoted Burns. I quoted Carlyle. I quoted the statistics that showed that Scottish regiments were the ones that did the real fighting in the First World War.
Now, all this wasn't attributable to an inferiority complex. That would have been forgivable. The Scottish problem is the opposite. As a nation we are cursed with a superiority complex. We really do believe that we are better. Not just better than the English; better than everyone.
Now that I've moved to the United States, it really is time to face up to some harsh realities:
Scotland is a small, sparsely populated appendage of England. Those who called it "North Britain" in the 18th century had it right.
The weather is impossibly wet.
Most of the land north of Loch Lomond is barren rock.
Scotland lost its political independence 300 years ago, and the creation of a Scottish Parliament, a glorified county council housed in a risible and overpriced folly of a building, has not restored it.
Educational standards in Scotland, once the highest in Europe, have with a few exceptions collapsed.
When it comes to sports and I do not count the one decent tennis player Scotland is the Belarus of the West.
In fact, when it comes to just about everything, it is the Belarus of the West.
That is why so many Scots emigrate. As I did.
It's over. Over the way countries are sometimes just over. Over the way Prussia is over. Over the way Piedmont is over. Or, if you prefer, over the way General Motors will soon be over.
My modest proposal for 2006 is simple. The country hitherto known as Scotland should go into liquidation. The assets should be broken up, sold off and the proceeds (which won't fetch much) distributed to the creditors and, if anything remains, to the shareholders.
The Scots can keep their accents, just as Yorkshiremen keep theirs. But the idea that Scotland might one day "be a nation again" should simply be dropped. .
The best of Scotland, like "Auld Lang Syne," belongs to the world. The rest of Scotland I can do without.