THERE’S a wonderful line about Hogmanay in Evelyn Waugh’s classic 1948 novel, The Loved One.

Dennis Barlow, a young Englishman in Los Angeles, is talking to a young woman, Aimée Thanatogenos, whom he would like to get to know rather better. In a conversation he refers, casually, to Hogmanay.

“What is that?” she asks, intrigued.

“People being sick on the pavement in Glasgow”, Barlow tells her.

There were probably some such incidents on the last day of 1947, when the main photograph here was taken, even if revellers seemed to forego the traditional bottle of whisky, at 3s 10d, in favour of sherry and port.

The man with the bottle is pouring it into a glass and not, as it might seem, onto the boy’s head.

The police reported a “quiet night”, having arrested fewer rowdier revellers than usual, while the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association dealt with 60 incidents during Hogmanay and New Year, a total similar to the previous year’s.

Rain fell across the city from 9pm on Hogmanay to 9pm on New Year’s Day (the traditional Old Firm fixture was cancelled because of a waterlogged pitch) but Glaswegians, well served by the public all-night transport system, were able to defy the elements, crowding onto trams and buses well until after midnight.

Church bells were rung across Glasgow to welcome the New Year. Ships in the Clyde sounded their sirens, and one of them tapped out ‘Happy New Year’ on Morse code. The torrential rain didn’t do much to hamper Greenock’s Hogmanay, but there were only about 50 people at Paisley Cross for the bells.

Edinburgh experienced its quietest Hogmanay on record, and there was only a small crowd at The Tron. There were no incidents.

At one minute after midnight, a dark-haired Scotsman, laden with a pair of kippered herrings, a piece of bread, a bottle of malt whisky and a piece of coal, walked into the BBC’s Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London, and received a polite if chilly reception. The Corporation, he remarked, “evidently does not know how to welcome a Scottish first-foot”.

Few then could have foreseen that Edinburgh would stage, each year, one of the world’s greatest Hogmanay celebrations (photographed above, in 2003, by Gordon Terris). Tonight, hundreds of thousands of people will take to the capital’s streets to bid farewell to the old year and decade, and welcome the new ones. The Street Party will feature Marc Almond, Idlewild, The Snuts and Arielle Free; there will be a Ceilidh Under the Castle; and the leading international DJ, Mark Ronson, will host Hogmanay in the Gardens.

And, just possibly, here as elsewhere, there may be a few people being sick on the pavement...

Read more: Herald Diary