CIVILISATION has come a wee way since the days of Man of the Year awards.
Once it was realised that half the Earth's population was in fact female, the doors were flung open and such ordinary bods as Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson could be crowned.
But these beauty contests, being global in nature, continue to miss a trick. Scotland is set to be the centre of the universe for some of us next year. Why not, then, begin as we mean to go on by starting a Scot of the Year competition? Suggestions follow. As for a certain referendum next September, your vote is required.
Alex Salmond: 2013 for the First Minister was the year of snakes, ladders and playing statutes, with the Yes vote continuing to languish around the 20-30% mark. Given the wealth of warnings from the No camp about the risks of independence, holding steady at even these low numbers could be seen by optimists as a plus. Mr Salmond's " p" was the publication of the White Paper, but the downer was its low-to-no impact on the polls, leaving Scotland's First Slimmer (two stones off) to start 2014 as he began 2013: in need of a game-changer.
Andy Murray: Scotland's newest hotelier became Middle England's new best friend when he ended 77 years of drought at Wimbledon. How quickly the London press forgot the years of sniping about his mettle and his "anyone but England" remark. Murray's canniest move politically has been to say love all about the independence vote but he has promised to change that. Will he feel the same as the debate intensifies, and will it make a difference? Of more immediate concern is how he fares at the Australian Open next month.
Alistair Darling: the No campaign's cheerleader in chief ended the year to anonymous catcalls from London. Darling might have thought he was doing just fine in the polls but mutterings from the south reflect jitters that the lead might be more candy floss than concrete and could yet crumble if the SNP's grassroots campaign is as good as its architects boast. Mr Salmond needs a game changer: according to the Darling doubters, the former Chancellor requires a change of tone, and fast.
Gordon Brewer: the referendum is as much a once-in-a-lifetime event for the Scottish media as it is for everyone else in these parts. Hence the arrival of that big beast from Today, James Naughtie, at Good Morning Scotland to provide competition on the broadcast front for Brewer. In Brewer's favour he is not a Johnny Come Lately, but he could do with being a lot less Reverend IM Jolly and a little more Jon Snow. With the BBC's future in an iScotland up for consideration, the corporation needs a good year.
Nicola Sturgeon: she is the Deputy First Minister and the deputy leader of the SNP, but there is no waiting in the wings for the Glasgow Southside MSP. With women proving more resistant to the Yes campaign message than men, this should have been her year. But as a Herald poll this month revealed, she is about as popular among women as her leader. Still, her performance in a TV debate, when she was Joe Louis to Alistair Carmichael's Louis Walsh, stands her in good stead for the year to come.
Alex Ferguson: another of Govan's famous sons entered retirement in a manner befitting his championship winning form at Manchester United. He handed over his beloved club to fellow Scot David Moyes, took a brief break, then roared back with My Autobiography. Number one in the hardback charts before Christmas with almost half a million copies sold, its sales figure is sure to have been boosted in the past week. Now that the book tour is out of the way, expect the No camp to ask Fergie to dole out some match-winning support.
Peter Capaldi: there were two great Doctor Who questions this year. Would viewers in an iScotland still be able to see the adventures of the Time Lord, and who would play the good doctor? The Thick of It star answered the second question; the first remains up in the air, despite SNP assurances that favourite TV programmes would, like the monarchy, continue in post. Capaldi made his debut as the doctor in the Christmas Day episode, proudly playing him as a Scot. On the UK stage he is sure to have a higher profile than messrs Salmond and Darling combined.
Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill: the stadium-conquering Kevin Bridges kept his Sauchiehall Street-cred intact when he decided he was washing his hair the night David Cameron invited him to Downing Street to celebrate St Andrew's Day. For services to crowd pleasing, however, nothing could beat the announcement by the Still Game duo that they were reinventing the programme as a stadium show. Due to popular demand, the brief canter at the Hydro has turned into a marathon. Scotland clearly believes it will be in need of a laugh next year.
Princess Merida: scotching memories of past crimes against the national image, Disney's Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, was the real McDeal. Pure dead gallus, she was a Disney heroine who broke the mould, and her creators won an Oscar for best animated film in 2013. Just a pity her doll turned her from braveheart to beauty queen, a move criticised by her creator, Brenda Chapman. After protests, Disney promised a rethink, though the "classic" Merida doll for sale via its online store looks as glam as the rest of the Disney Princess range.
Anonymous: the most requested White Paper of this year, or any other, lacked an author's name on the front. The he or she who was the guiding authorial mind behind Scotland's Future remained anonymous. Their task had been to show that the case for an iScotland had substance, hence the whale-choking 600-plus pages. While the tone on the page was one of unwavering certainty ("Will an independent Scotland continue to use the Bank of England? Yes."), the questions from doubters only grew. Anonymous is not done at the laptop yet.
Dexter Fletcher: ordinarily, the film director from north London would not get within a mile of any Scot of the Year contest, but for the helmer of the Sunshine on Leith, an exception can be made. With songs from The Proclaimers, the musical about two Scottish squaddies returning to Edinburgh, ended the long, dreich tradition of Scottish films being the strongest depressants known to man or woman. Druggies, squalor and wall-to-wall despair were traded for love, laughter, songs and postcard views. Scotland, the Prozac nation, lapped it up.
You: yes, you, who woke up this morning wondering how you were going to stagger into 2014 while still recovering from the emotional, dietary and financial carnage of Christmas.
You have a starring role in 2014, whether it be making a success of the Commonwealth Games by out-smiling those preternaturally cheery Olympics Games Makers, or voting in the referendum. You are a VIP in 2014, so feel free to be a diva. Terribly un-Scottish, I know, but there will never be another opportunity like it.
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