My Column

Glimmers of hope amid 2018 gloom

  • Date: Monday 31st December 2018
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It’s safe to say that 2018 probably hasn’t been your favourite ever year – at best, it’s been indifferent, inglorious, ignominious, and occasionally even downright insidious.

We’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, before returning to exactly where we were. It’s difficult to know where the largely indeterminate 2018 stands in the grand scheme of things, or if it’s leading to anything.

It feels like 2018 was just, well, somewhere in between. People smarter than me might ask if it saw us embarking upon a post-truth era, cosmodernism, digimodernism, or just plain old post-postmodernism, but sometimes a year just defies categorisation – particularly one in which Love Island was almost ubiquitous.

Whether you loved the show or hated it, I’ll leave to your own conscience.

From the big Brexit balls up, to mass GDPR consternation, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, ongoing #MeToo controversies, and the deaths of Stephen Hawking, Aretha Franklin, and Stan Lee - to name just a few sad losses - it’s been 12 months that you’ll likely be all too glad to see the back of.

In that time, terror attacks and mass shootings around the globe became not so much a shock, but more of a distressingly inevitable daily reality.

And yet, it’s all too easy to forget that there was much to celebrate too.

Scotland’s Year of Young People was undoubtedly a huge success which proudly spotlighted a future for our country that’s genuinely full of hope and potential. We also had the exciting opening of the V&A in Dundee, a glorious royal wedding at the height of a sizzling summer, while football fans enjoyed an incredibly entertaining World Cup, not to mention a renewed sense of excitement around the Scottish game.

Likewise, the European Championships in Glasgow threw the spotlight back on our sporting prowess in an extremely positive way.

More importantly, we also had people making their voices heard on an unparalleled level, be it International Women’s Day, Mandela 100, or mass conversations around civic engagement and what constitutes a fair wage.

Interestingly, despite spiralling sales, it seems printed newspapers remained the medium of trust for disseminating messaging that truly hits the mark.

In 2018, big names looking to make a heartfelt apology recurrently took out full page adverts. In February there was Oxfam saying sorry to its supporters following allegations of sexual misconduct by its staff in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. It pointedly chose to do so in The Times, which had exposed the scandal in the first place.

Then when KFC did the unthinkable by running out of chicken, forcing it to temporarily close hundreds of restaurants, it took a similar tack. In the process, it created one of the most memorable and lauded campaigns of 2018 by declaring ‘FCK. We’re sorry’ in a full-page ad that ran in both The Sun and the Metro. Having an honest sense of humour over your own mistakes can go a long way to repairing damage with the UK public, and KFC hasn’t looked back since.

We saw the rise of fast fashion with the likes of ASOS and Boohoo stealing a huge march in the ecommerce space thanks to their ability to meet consumer demand quickly and cheaply. In that vein, the combination of TV and good marketing continued to make for a match made in heaven.

Indeed, a very savvy advertising tie up between Missguided and the makers of Love Island saw sales of its clothes rise by a whopping 40 per cent every evening the show aired.

The big grocery retailer news was the planned merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s, while Sports Direct took control of House of Fraser and Evans Cycles.

It’s been a challenging 12 months for business, and with Brexit set to continue rearing its ugly head, 2019 may not be a dramatic improvement.

The one thing keeping me going? The final series of Game of Thrones is nearly here.



We’ve somehow alighted on the final day of the year – and hasn’t that come around fast?

Many of you will be bringing in the bells with family and friends at home with BBC’s Hogmanay Live, will be out celebrating in the midst of Scotland’s street parties, or simply tucking into the traditional steak pie.

Despite everything that 2018 has thrown at us, I want to end this year on a high note, and looking back at our incredible spirit of giving has really inspired me.

Us Scots might have a reputation for being ‘mean’ with our money but actually our charity efforts this year are really something to shout about.

Kiltwalk alone had their biggest year to date, with a record-breaking £5m raised for charities all over the country.

The events which took place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen saw over 20,000 walkers take part which is just an amazing effort.

Then there was Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park, which raised a whopping £3.2m thanks to 10,000 hardy souls sleeping outside to raise awareness of homelessness.

This is one I’m particularly proud to have been a part of. The work Josh Littlejohn does with Social Bite is a real credit to Scotland.

The STV Appeal also raised over £2.5m this year for children and young people in Scotland.

So when you’re tucking into your New Year’s dinner or clinking your glass of fizz at the bells, just remember those less fortunate than ourselves and think of how we can top this year’s fundraising efforts – although it may be difficult!



Christmas may be gone but you can prolong the festive feeling with the numerous pantomimes which are running throughout January.

These festive theatre performances bring a little light-heartedness as we head into the unknown, and it’s a sure way of making you cry with laughter – not tears!

With The Krankies returning to the SEC at Glasgow and national treasure Elaine C Smith gracing us with her presence at the King’s Theatre in Aladdin, there are plenty of giggles to be had, not to mention a warm glow from knowing that it’s creating much-needed revenue for our local theatres.

Some say pantomimes are on the way out, but to that I would say ‘Oh no they’re not!’ Support your local theatre and distract yourself from everything else that is going on.



No one in the UK knows what position we will be in at this time next year - all we know is that the political uncertainty is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

We may still be in the midst of it all, but that hasn’t stopped us from fighting amongst ourselves.

These days there seems to be no middle ground. We just cannot agree on anything, whether it be political views, gender neutrality, or the worthiness of Strictly Come Dancing winners.

Social media gives us a platform for sharing our views and ultimately disagreeing with others – but whether this is a positive, I’m uncertain.

Next year I would like to see us coming together and establishing more unity despite our differences.

We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns.

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