2010 wasn't the best of years for the Auld Reekie Ranter and it was with considerable anticipation that I looked forward to the break at Christmas and New Year. Twelve days away from the pressure cooker environment that is work, a chance to forget about all the problems at the workplace and to recharge the batteries that had been drained of energy. When I stopped work shortly after five o'clock on the evening of Thursday 23 December, I headed to a pub for a swift half (which turned into twelve halves admittedly) and as my lips touched the first soothing taste of foaming ale I thought that suddenly the world had become a better place. That seems a long time ago now.
Today is the final day of a festive break that, I now have to say, seems to have gone on for ever. Scotland generally takes two days off at New Year and with New Year's Day falling on a Saturday this year, many people are taking Monday and Tuesday off work. Even Lothian Buses and Worst Group are putting on a Saturday service today while the rest of the UK arouses from its slumber and returns to the coalface.
Much as I have enjoyed the time away from work, I have to say this festive break has gone on too long. I'm a creature of habit - well, a creature certainly - and my normal routine has been cast aside for the best part of a fortnight. No alarm screeching out at 6.05am forcing me to get out of bed to face the world; no battling loud schoolkids and senseless students on the bus on the way to work; not having to answer incessant phone calls and dealing with one crisis after another in the office. It's been bliss but something has gnawed away telling me that an absence of the daily grind that is life and the art of trying to survive in a stressful world means there is something missing. I type this on Tuesday morning knowing that less than 24 hours from now I'll be stooping around the office, hunched shoulders, face tripping me, counting the hours until the working day comes to an end and counting the days until I'm next on holiday.
You might think there is no pleasing me - not happy at work but less than enthralled at being away from the workplace for so long. And you would be right. By the end of the week normality will have returned, Christmas and New Year will be but a distant memory, snow will have come back with a vengeance and the prospect of the worst month of the year - dark, cold, miserable, financially challenged January - will lie ahead like an unending road to hell. There are only two things which could be considered in my favour. Firstly, the return of a semblance of routine to my life.
And secondly, wishing a Happy New Year to those acquaintances of have the misfortune to follow Hibernian FC. Now to return briefly to the events of New Years Day and the game at Tynecastle...