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<em>Picture: ben hanbury</em>

Picture: ben hanbury

By Betty Kirkpatrick

Like Christmas, Hogmanay is associated with eating and drinking, although not usually now in that order of importance. Formerly, though, Hogmanay was more associated with eating, particularly if you were a child. It was the custom for children to go round the houses asking for a gift, usually a cake or something sweet, giving the festival the name of Cake Day.

Incidentally, the giving of gifts on Hogmanay is thought by many people to have a bearing on the origin of the word Hogmanay, although the etymology is uncertain. The most widely accepted suggested origin is that Hogmanay is based on the French word aguillanneuf, meaning first a gift given at New Year and then the festival of New Year itself. The clue is in the second part of the French word which reads l’an neuf, French for New Year.

Nowadays, Hogmanay is still associated with the giving of gifts and it is thought to bring ill-luck to a household if a visitor crosses the threshold in the early hours of New Year without some form of gift. This is particularly true if the empty-handed visitor is the first foot, first fit in Scots, the first person to cross a threshold after midnight has struck.

Sometimes New Year gifts still take the form of sweet things such as shortbread or the immensely calorific black bun, a kind of cake consisting of a pastry case surrounding an extremely rich fruitcake mixture. Sometimes the gift will be a piece of coal, traditionally given to ensure a steady source of warmth throughout the year, although this could be a vain hope in these days of soaring fuel costs.

Mostly nowadays, though, visitors at New Year will be clutching a bottle of whisky. Unless they are exceptionally generous or exceptionally drunk, the bottle of whisky is not actually a gift. The gift for the host is just a glass poured from the bottle which is hastily put back in the visitor’s pocket.

And at last I get to the reason for the title of this article! Forget the cake and even the shortbread and black bun. Hogmanay and New Year are now largely drinking festivals, a time when what Burns described in Tam o’ Shanter as “drouthy neebors” meet to see in the New Year in an alcoholic haze.

Drouthy, also commonly spelt droothy, means thirsty, although the thirst involved is usually a desire for strong drink rather than for water or other beverage. (In the quotation from Burns, neebors is Scots for neighbours.) Often the desire for such a drink is not just a thirst but an addiction. A drouthy neebor may well be an alcoholic one. Those of Tam o’ Shanter were almost certainly so.

Originally, drouthy referred to the weather and meant dry or exceptionally dry. I seem to remember that we used occasionally to have drouthy summers, but recently these have largely disappeared. They still have these in the south, although not so called, but they have become part of the north/south divide, leaving us with several inches of rain while our southern neighbours complain of a drought.

Originally, drought meant simply dryness and it is etymologically connected with Scots drouth, from which drouthy is formed. Both drought and drouth have their roots in Old English drugath.

Drouth can also mean thirst, and Hogmanay revellers are likely to have a great drouth on them. If they regularly give in to such a drouth too often, they may themselves grow into drouths, in other words habitual drinkers or alcoholics. Eventually, they may end up literally dying for a drink.

But away with such a depressing and sobering thought. It’s Hogmanay! Slainte! All the best for 2012!

Betty Kirkpatrick is the former editor of several classic reference books, including Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus. She is also the author of several smaller language reference books, including The Usual Suspects and Other Clichés published by Bloomsbury, and a series of Scots titles, including Scottish Words and Phrases, Scottish Quotations, and Great Scots, published by Crombie Jardine.

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FREE TO USE - SCOTTISH FOOD AND DRINK FORTNIGHTThe start of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight has been marked by a couple of initiatives to help Scotland’s hospitality sector. In the first, a programme worth £1 million to improve standards and raise ambition within the industry has been launched this afternoon at an event in Glasgow. It’s called the Emerging Talent Scholarship programme and is run by the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland.

The scheme is open to anyone working in a tourism, leisure, travel or hospitality business in Scotland. It’s estimated that there are around 180,000 people employed the sector which brings over £11 billion to the Scottish economy each year. The scholarships include working with Michelin starred chefs and award winning sommeliers, as well as courses at leading hotel schools in Lausanne in Switzerland and the Disney Institute in Florida.

The programme has now been in operation for some eight years and over 800 scholarships have been awarded. Beverly Payne, head of HIT Scotland’s scholarship committee, pointed out that the scholarships “are seen as high value opportunities and it is vital that we keep providing great experiences so people can learn from the best and bring back ideas and innovations to help move Scottish hospitality forward.”

Applications close on the 30th of November and more information can be found on the www.hitscotland.co.uk website. The experience of past winners can be seen at the YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/hitscotland.

On top of that, eleven of Scotland’s top chefs today pledged a fortnight of their time to young culinary enthusiasts who are hoping to make their mark in the Scottish catering and hospitality sector. Among the chefs already committed to the scheme include such star names as Nick Nairn, Martin Wishart, Andrew Fairlie and Albert Roux.

Launching the programme, Fergus Ewing, minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, said that “Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is one of the premier events in the food and drink calendar, showcasing our wonderful natural larder and enhancing Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink.”

With chefs Roy Brett from Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh and John Paul from the Macdonald Marine Hotel in North Berwick, he added “I can’t think of a better way of launching this showcase than with some great ambassadors of Scottish food. The work experience placements these chefs will provide will not only encourage young people to think of the food and drink industry as a career of choice, equipping with them with skills which the industry needs for future growth but will also help them to think about their food choices.”

Scotland Food & Drink organised the scheme to encourage more youngsters into the trade. The work experience scheme is open to any budding chef under the age of 21. It could be a chef currently in employment looking for some experience with a top chef or perhaps a student or school leaver looking for inspiration on what to do next in their cooking career. Entrants can choose which chef they would like to work with but there is only one space available with each outlet. Scotland Food & Drink will pay £150 towards each student’s travelling expenses. Speaking at the launch, Fergus Ewing said:

Roy Brett said that “inspiring young Scots into the industry is something I am extremely passionate about. I had wonderful mentors when I was starting out in my career and I want to offer that same  chance to hungry new talent. Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is the perfect time to launch the scheme because it highlights the fantastic array of home grown produce we have at our disposal and will hopefully encourage our young chefs to take advantage of the tastes and flavours.”

To apply entrants must write to Scotland Food & Drink stating why they think a two week placement with one of Scotland’s top chefs would enhance their career and which chef they would like to be placed with. Entries should be sent to Sophie Fraser at Scotland Food & Drink on sophie.fraser@scotlandfoodanddrink.org or write to her at Scotland Food & Drink, 3 The Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NB.

There are 164 events taking place across the country to celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight. For further information log onto www.scottishfoodanddrinkfortnight.co.uk.

<em>Picture: Tomhannen</em>

Used by 72 per cent of teenagers Picture: Tomhannen

Today’s teenager is less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs – and, when he or she has sex, is more likely than not to use a condom, according to a report published today.

The latest snapshot of the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of young people in Scotland has some good news for policy makers, with the indication that things are improving on a variety of fronts.

Researchers at Edinburgh University have found that substance misuse has dropped in the last decade, and diets are healthier, too, with young people consuming much less in the way of sweets, crisps and chips – although they still don’t take enough exercise.

Almost a third of 15-year-olds say they have had sexual intercourse, with girls (35 per cent) more likely to report this than boys (27 per cent). Condom use has fallen since 2006 (79 per cent), with 72 per cent saying they had used one during last intercourse, but this is still up slightly on the 1990 rate (70 per cent).

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On the whole, the majority (87 per cent) of the 7,000 young people interviewed for the research were satisfied with their lives, although levels of happiness have decreased in the last five years, as has confidence among girls.

The research, funded by NHS Health Scotland, aims to provide a picture of the health and wellbeing of young people aged 11, 13 and 15. It covers a number of topics including education, lifestyle, behaviour and family circumstances.

This year’s report finds that 11 per cent of 15-year-olds are smoking every day, compared to 16 per cent in 2002. The gender gap which emerged in the late 1990s, where girls were smoking more than boys, appears to have closed.

The number of young people drinking alcohol at least once a week has fallen by over a third. One in ten 13-year-olds and more than a quarter of 15-year-olds drink alcohol at least once a week, with boys most likely to drink beer while girls prefer spirits and alcopops. Cannabis use, both experimental and regular, has halved since 2002, with 19 per cent of 15-year-olds and 4 per cent of 13-year-olds reporting that they had used it.

Although diet appears to have improved, with sweet consumption down by a third and the eating of crisps and chips halving between 2002 and 2010, young people are still not eating enough fruit and vegetables and still don’t take enough exercise. Only 19 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls meet the Scottish government’s guidelines on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, although around half walk to school. In addition, the amount of television watched by young people has fallen.

Around one-fifth (21 per cent) of girls are on a diet, or doing something else to lose weight, compared to 10 per cent of boys. A quarter of boys and two-fifths of girls report that they feel too fat.

A quarter of young people like school “a lot”, with almost two-thirds feeling their classmates are “kind and helpful”, but over one-fifth of 11-year-olds and 54 per cent of 15-year-olds feel pressured by schoolwork.

Fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) young people reported being bullied two or three times at school in the previous two months, and 5 per cent reported having bullied others (7 per cent of boys and 2 per cent of girls).

Almost half of young people have received an injury requiring medical attention in the past 12 months, with boys more likely to be injured than girls. There has been no change in the prevalence of injuries in the last decade.

Around two-thirds of young people live with both parents, with 21 per cent living with one parent. Most children (76 per cent) living with both parents report that both are in employment, as are 74 per cent of single parents. More than half of young people (55 per cent) feel their family is quite or very well off, although this tails off the older the child gets.

Only around half of young people say they feel safe in their local area, although most feel safe most of the time. About one-third of young people think their local area is a really good place to live although, again, this is more likely to be the case among 13-year-olds than 15-year-olds.

“These recent findings are extremely encouraging, with improvements in several areas relating to children’s overall wellbeing,” said Professor Candace Currie, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit at Edinburgh University.

“Scotland has participated in this international collaborative study for two decades, giving us a unique opportunity to track key areas of health among young people and compare Scotland’s progress to other countries.”

“The Scottish 2010 survey reported here suggests that many things are improving,” added Dr Gerry McCartney, public health consultant and health of the Public Health Observatory Division with NHS Health Scotland.

“Despite these improvements, there remain several worrying findings: only around half of young people feel safe in their local area and only a third of young people eat fruit and vegetables every day.”

The Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HBSC) Scotland National Report will be published in full later today.

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<em>Picture: Michal Zacharzewski, SXC</em>

Picture: Michal Zacharzewski, SXC

After living in Scotland for most of my life and Ibiza for the last six years I’ve come to a simple conclusion on the difference between the boozing habits of southern and northern Europeans. Southern Europeans just don’t go out drinking. If that sounds like a load of nonsense, let me explain.

Ibiza’s a great social laboratory. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan places in Europe with less than half the population born on the island. And it attracts large numbers of tourists from countries including: Britain, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, Holland, France, Italy and, of course, Spain. And holidays seem to make people revert to national stereotype.

Now I’m certainly not saying the Spanish locals and tourists don’t drink. It’s still not uncommon for a worker’s breakfast to consist of a cigarette and a “carajillo”, which is a coffee with a large measure of brandy poured into it. A fixed price “menu del dia” at lunchtime includes a drink which is most commonly half a bottle of wine with lemonade to improve the quality.

Equally social life here does revolve around bars where, of course, alcohol is served. The difference is that drinking is not an end in itself. It’s an incidental. In fact it’s generally seen as rather embarrassing and immature to be seen to be drunk.

The point about maturity is important. A Spanish phenomenon that the authorities have clamped down on with varying success in recent years is the so-called “botellon” which literally means “large bottle”. This usually consists of a group of youths standing round a car with its stereo turned up, drinking alcohol bought from a supermarket.

There are also “macro-botellones” which have attracted thousands in cities such as Madrid. Unsurprisingly these events weren’t exactly popular with the neighbours who complain about noise going on all night, litter and vomiting teenagers. What I can’t explain is why in the list of problems arising from these events there is no mention of fighting. It’s impossible to imagine 20,000 drunken youths gathered together in Britain without substantial violence being involved.

Although I’ve never been to a botellon, people who have tell me that they’re generally just a cheap way of meeting friends at the weekend. This argument could be for my benefit, but there’s probably more than a modicum of truth in it. The cheapest can of beer in my local supermarket is roughly 20p. In even a moderately fashionable bar the price of a small glass of beer is upwards of £2.50.

In fact this price differential perhaps illustrates again how getting drunk is not the object of the exercise in a Spanish evening out. I may be wrong, but I’m certainly not aware of large numbers of local bars closing down in the way pubs have in Britain. That’s despite the cost difference between supermarkets and bars being even greater here than it is in the UK.

The variation in attitude to drink is also illustrated when British friends of mine complain about the extortionate prices in some bars and clubs. They do have a point. Here in Ibiza there are plenty of places that will charge around £7 for a beer and £12.50 for a mixed drink such as a vodka and tonic.

It is outrageous, but the point is you don’t go somewhere that charges these extortionate prices to drink. Almost always the attraction is world-class DJs or other entertainment. People go to dance rather than fall over. But this can be a difficult concept for Brits to grasp.

Last year one of the big Ibiza clubs, El Divino, tried to adopt what might be called a “British strategy”. It offered all its drinks at two for the price of one. At the end of the summer El Divino closed for good. The popular theory was that nobody wanted to go to a discotheque that was likely to be full of drunks.

Local bar owners I’ve spoken to find it hard to understand the British attitude to booze. They generally like their clientele, but can’t understand why they are so eager to drink themselves to oblivion as quickly and cheaply as possible. But if that’s what people want they’ll provide the service.

At the beginning of this article I referred to northern European drinking behaviour and since then have I’ve talked mostly about Brits. That’s because the most conspicuous drunken behaviour in Ibiza is amongst teenage tourists. The vast majority of these are British and Irish, and I apologise to the latter for lumping them together.

Once northern Europeans get into their twenties there doesn’t seem to be that much difference between Brits, Irish, Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans and the rest. Drinking for all of them can be an end in itself. Incidentally, their propensity for boozing doesn’t necessarily make them unpopular.

Probably the least-loved nationality on the island are the Italians. They are the largest group of southern European tourists and it’s at least partly their unwillingness to buy drinks in quantity that the locals don’t like.

Certainly I prefer the Spanish attitude to booze. Or, perhaps, “lack of attitude” would be a better way to describe it. Alcohol is just there rather than being a problem or issue. That doesn’t mean I can think of a way of exporting this way of thinking through legislation or anything else.

It’s not until you are away from it for a while that you realise how the idea of going out drinking is ingrained in your psyche. It might seem a subtle difference between meeting people in a bar and going for a drink, but it’s a big distinction.

Nooooooooo

Nooooooooo

The end of January is traditionally the time to fall off the wagon. The New Year’s resolutions – which seemed so do-able at the start of the month – have faded away and it’s back to the usual cakes and ale.

It doesn’t have to be that way – just making a few minor adjustments could still mean that 2010 is the year to get healthier and fitter (or at least to halt the decline).

My favourite “New Year, New You” type feature this year was from The Guardian’s Luisa Dillner simply because it didn’t make any unreasonable demands. The lovely Dr Dillner’s view is not to bother with detox diets, but to give up smoking, drink sensibly and give to charity. The last, by the way, is because being altruistic is supposed to have fabulous mental health benefits.

The Herald published a good round-up on 3 January, having asked all sorts of fitness folk for their advice. My favourites include nutritionist Nell Nelson’s advice to go for “good mood food” – including a cake which seems to be largely made up of dark chocolate. Apparently it contains the amino acid phenylalanine, so it’s good for us (no, I don’t know either, but hey, it’s chocolate cake). I also like psychiatrist Alex Yellowlees’ advice to give yourself something to look forward to.

Probably best not to make “something” that a huge fry up and a binge drinking session… Only 11 months to go until the next set of New Year’s resolutions.