Despite the warnings, Mad Friday could be as Mad as ever

by Colin Campbell

“MAD Friday” is traditionally the most raucous and drunken night of the year.

As the last Friday before Christmas with full pub opening hours, it’s the day and night when many people throw caution to the winds and end up with a severe storm in their heads.

In Inverness pub bouncers are tensed up on red alert, the pubs themselves are staffed to the limit, all leave is cancelled for street pastors who assist in helping assist human street debris, and the police no doubt count down the hours until it’s all over.

Last year there was no Madness on Friday, just ghost town Inverness.

This year the pubs will be open, but will it be more subdued or will drinking without restraint reach its usual pitch of peak annual excess?

A significant number of office Christmas parties have been cancelled. It’s the staggeringly merry spillover from these occasions, when some people who don’t drink much are overwhelmed by a copious intake of the Devil’s Buttermilk, that underpins the revelry and wild behaviour of Black Friday.

However many staff gatherings are likely to go ahead. And if we know one thing in these uncertain times, it’s that a few drinks renders all considerations of caution completely null and void.

When the pubs opened last year after the end of the first lockdown, we had the situation where during the day people were behaving with masked up propriety, observing social distancing and sticking to the rules like limpets.

And hours later on Fridays and Saturdays Inverness city centre became an entirely  mask free zone with hugging reunions in the streets and queues of people seeking entry into the most popular pubs shuffling along inches apart.

We reported on it here over several weeks. The bizarre contrast between strict covid observance in the afternoons and complete covid disregard at night was one of the strangest elements of the entire saga. In many and probably most cases the tumultuous change in behaviour involved exactly the same people.

Now we have omicron, and Nicola Sturgeon and her tsunami. New rules have again been introduced but Mad Friday is scarcely an ideal night for testing them. In fact you couldn’t come up with a worse one.

I won’t be venturing out then, been there, done that, and haven’t had a fling on that night for years. But this week I met a former colleague in a High Street coffee shop for a chat and it all seemed pretty normal. The place was busy, the atmosphere was relaxed and there was no hint of tension or anxiety in the air.

We may have reached the point where many people are no longer paying much if any attention to the dire warnings coming from Sturgeon and Co. They are not openly defying them, the drumbeat of doom and gloom is just not getting through.

When our coffee shop conversation turned to the virus an elderly man at the next table chipped in to question how many times the omicron scenario could erupt again. Another variant in spring, summer, next winter, with yet more panic warnings emanating from “experts” and politicians. He said this could go on for ever. Triple jabbed, he wasn’t having it. Like very, very many others I suspect.

As I say, I won’t be going to a pub on Mad Friday, but I wouldn’t be going anyway. But I suspect very many people will be, and Friday could turn out as Mad as ever.

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