Is Iran ready for a New Year revolution?
SORRY if this column seems a bit patchy but I am still recovering from the New Year celebrations. Persian New Year, that is, which started yesterday. You might have thought you'd seen it all, what with the fireworks on Hogmanay and those Chinese shimmying down Newcastle's Stowell Street under a paper dragon last month (no cracks about how the Year of the Rabbit may affect the one-child policy, please).
But, in fact, you still have plenty of time to book a flight to Thailand to have water slung all over you in celebration of their new year on April 13, if that is your sort of thing.
You have missed the Iranian opportunity, though. We went to the pub, drank beer and ate pork scratchings, which seemed strangely out of tune with the Islamic Republic to me, but what do I know? I only married into it. My wife said that we also needed to mark the occasion by putting on our table seven things beginning with S. This would help ensure a year of plenty and happiness. So I did what I thought was a great job with sugar, Shake 'n' Vac and so on, until she gave me a withering look and pointed out that they had to begin with S in Persian.
Hyacinths (or "shyacinths" in Farsi, I presume) were an important part of this mix but, sadly, Mrs Hann had forgotten to buy any. She claimed it did not matter too much because she had forgotten last year, too. But then, as I pointed out, the cat died.
Maybe I shouldn't keep putting off making that appointment for an angiogram, as my consultant recommended several weeks ago.
It's the start of 1390 in Iran, so at least they won't have so far to travel when the West sets about bombing the place back into the Stone Age, as it no doubt will once the current local difficulties in Libya and the like have all been settled. I looked up what was happening in England in 1390 for comparative purposes, but it seems to have been a rather dull year.
In Scotland, though, well-known king Robert II dropped off the perch and was succeeded by his equally famous son, Robert III.
That is much the way the Gadaffis expected things to work out, I imagine, until the fickle West turned on them. It must be very confusing being a crazed dictator.
One minute you're quietly starving or murdering your people, squirreling billions into your offshore accounts and being feted by the likes of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. And the next moment your old pals are firing rockets at you.
Unless you're Robert Mugabe, say, and are inconveniently far from European air bases and don't happen to be sitting on a huge great pool of oil. Personally, I am a great fan of non-involvement. Just so long as the bloodshed does not spread to Tyneside, I'd be quite content for the Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Bahrainis, Iranians etc to be left to work things out for themselves.
One of the few definite advantages of having the ever-wet Lib Dems in Government seemed to be the likelihood that they would put a hand-wringing brake on the recent tendency of British administrations to join in gung-ho adventures (and you might have thought consigning most of the arms to the scrapyard would have that effect, too).
But it would seem not. I know that bloke who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was in all probability an innocent fall guy, but wouldn't it be wonderfully ironic if a stray missile landed on his house? Though it's much more likely to land on mine, to be realistic, thanks to those missing hyacinths. Happy 1390, everyone.