Brash McKelvie – Why hope is so important

Scottish Field’s online columnist Brash McKelvie ponders how important it is to have something good to cling on to.

Here are the cast of characters that share the vicissitudes of life:

Scragend – a Rhode Island Red of indeterminate age and foul nature.

Shitting Cat – does exactly what it says on the tin.

The Beloved – a paragon of virtue and a self-appointed critic of most of my thoughts and actions.

Snr and Jnr Orifice – our fledged offspring.

Have you ever had your cranium assaulted by a wrathful Rhode Island? I have. Hear the silent screaming as Scragend rat-tat-tats her disapproval at being ousted from the cushioned seat to the back of the chair.

It’s the pause between each peck that builds the tension and therefore heightens the sense of pain. She’s a past master in pain, the premiere cru in cruelty.

We all have disappointments, birthdays forgotten, anniversaries overlooked, promotions deferred and every single man jack of us has had unexpected or unwished for results in our professional, personal and academic lives.

And the usual banality is something you find hanging from a kitchen wall, painted a plank of wood in pastel shades stating the bloody obvious..’It’s not the falling, it’s how you get back up’ etc – nausea suitably induced.

But the diminishment or eradication of hope is altogether a different subject. That small white butterfly that slipped out last from Pandora’s box and brought hope to a world besieged by the other bogeys that had been ‘hanging out’ in the box prior to their release.

Hope is the last resort of the tried, that ephemeral magician that can change the course of a lifeless well lived. And it’s a sharer – ‘I hope you get better’, ‘We hope you have a safe journey’, ‘Hoping this finds you well’. More than a wish, it’s a desired conclusion with a sprinkle of fairy dust.

So when someone removes your hope, in whatever way and for whatever reason, they have, as far as I am concerned, crossed a median line that will incur all forms of wrath and vengeance in retaliation.

Those throw away remarks, we’ve all made them, these remarks can remove someone’s beliefs or hopes in the twinkling of an eye – and the Scottish attitude to aspiration can be scathing, the tall poppy syndrome, don’t get too big for your boots or, as I heard so eloquently put by a farm hand when referring to some local bigwig – ‘See him? I ken’t his faither’ . Done, dusted and dismissed.

But hope is what makes us magnificent. It’s hope that sends us back into firing lines, to make altruistic acts of kindness, to do bunion inducing fun runs to raise money for medical research, fall out of planes with the intention of raising funds for charity, develop irrigation systems in desert wastelands… the list is endless.

So let’s not muck with Hope, it needs nurtured. And so it is with hope that I hold onto the fact that Scragend will eventually desist from woodpeckering my noggin.

But internal to that fowl there is a malevolence lurking in it like a swollen corpse of resentment, ready to burst open at any time and it goes something like this: ‘If… you… think… I… am… going… to… stop… Sonny…… think … again…. yeah… and… Pandora’s… butterfly?…I… ate… it… with… a… nice… bottle…. of… Chianti’.

The hen is a hopeless case.