[3 Jan 2010: Here's what I would have posted from Edinburgh on New Year's morning if only my mobile hadn't refused to send emails. In 10 years time, I bet every mobile telecommunication device sends emails, no problem...]
As a new year begins, the streets of Edinburgh are freezing cold. Away from the city centre most pavements are icy and treacherous, but all's clear beyond the barriers on Princes Street. The sealed-off area is a seething mass of warmly-wrapped humanity in thick coats and woolly hats, although several brave souls have ventured out in non-thermal kilts (for which. much respect). There are burger stalls for those who need warming up, and beer vans for those who prefer to clutch ice-cold plastic bottles (which is the majority). Queueing time for beer is 15 minutes, but nobody complains. At each end of the street, and across Waverley Bridge, there are music stages to entertain the crowd. DJs spin and bands rock, while down in the Gardens Madness are playing to a more exclusive crowd. A bright white full moon shines down to illuminate the scene. The on-street party zone is packed, but not rammed, as everyone prepares to celebrate Hogmanay with their mates. There's a far better atmosphere here, and a much finer view, than anything far-off London can boast.
As midnight approaches, attention turns to the Castle and to the giant view screens. One group of beered-up students misinterprets the countdown and fires their party poppers sixty seconds early. Crowd noise builds to a crescendo as 2009 finally departs and the New Year magically arrives. Volleys of impressive fireworks erupt from the castle ramparts - and also from a second simultaneous display on Calton Hill that nobody appears to be watching. After three transfixed minutes, there's a lacklustre uncoordinated attempt at singing Auld Lang Syne. Friends hold gloves with strangers, taking special care not to drop their beer at the same time. many revellers then head straight for the exits, perhaps to a nearby bar with welcome central heating. But most are hardier souls and will party on in the sub-zero streets for a while longer. They'd better take extra care on the pavements on the way home, because the ice is far far slipperier when you're drunk. And the morning will bring a welcome day to recover, before 2010 begins in earnest. Happy New Year from all in Edinburgh!