SO here we are bidding good riddance to 2020, the year the world stood still, thanks to the most devastating virus to have swept the planet since the Spanish Flu epidemic just over a century ago.

The only good thing which can be said for the past 12 months is that least the pandemic kept Brexit out of the headlines for nine months.

When I was a child, New Year’s Eve was always one of the highlights of the year, when we were allowed to stay up late to see in the New Year.

It was a rare treat to see the country go tartan for the night, as the television was taken over by swirl of tartan, the skirl of bagpipes and the wee bit shoogle shoogle of the greatest of all Scotsman, Andy Stewart, as he teamed up with Jimmy Shand (and his band) to bring in the new year in memorable style.

They would be joined by the likes of Moira Anderson and Kenneth McKellar, and occasionally Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor would tear themselves away from the Tonight studio to warble in the new year in celtic harmony.

I had just about every record Andy Stewart ever made, from his top ten hits A Scottish Soldier and Donald Where’s Yer Troosers to more obscure numbers such as the Highland Twist and Cowboy Jock from Skye.

I also knew most of the words to the Muckin’ o’Geordie’s Byre although I had not the faintest idea of what they meant.

I was also a big devotee of Jimmy Shand, and cherish the perhaps apocryphal tale of the accordionist nonpareil’s stay at a guest house in Tynedale, when he asked for some honey to spread on his breakfast toast. When he was handed one of those mini-jars of the sweet delight, he looked at it solemnly and declared: “Ooh, I see you keep a bee...

More often than not, we were all sound asleep when Big Ben boomed out midnight, but my mother would wake us up and send us outside ln our pyjamas to bring in the coal and sticks she had left on the step.

When we grew older and started courting, we used to go first footing around Macclesfield, which occasionally involved dropping in unannounced on total strangers. I recall visiting one house where the elderly male occupant felt that New Year;s Eve gave him licence to grab a kiss of all female visitors.

However, his man about town image was somewhat tarnished by the fact that every time he puckered up to go in for a snog, his false teeth shot out across the room!

In later life, when the children came along, we could no longer hit the town on New Year’s Eve, so we and a group of friends started having a peripatetic fancy dress party, moving from house to house in a series of bizarre home-made costumes.

I was looking at a collection of photographs from those heady days a couple of weeks ago, and what a jolly time we all appeared to be having.

There were some incredible costumes, some of which I have no recollection of whatsoever. In one, Mrs Hextol; is wearing a colourful headdress at least three feet tall, but I have no idea who or what she was supposed to be.

The first year, Mrs Hextol decided to go as a Christmas cracker, and spent the entire day encasing herself in a roll of cardboard, and festooning it with colourful crepe paper, tinsel and all the trimmings.

It looked fabulous, but there was one problem - the cardboard tube was solid, which meant she could not sit down, and had to spend the entire evening propped against a wall or hopping from one venue to the next.

After that first year, we decided that the costumes had to conform to a theme, so over the next few years there were Cowboys and Indians, nursery rhymes, cartoon characters, television programmes, foreign and much more.

I had various costumes over the years, including Rene from Allo Allo, Frankenstein’s Monster, a lederhosen clad Bavarian, Mickey Mouse and Rab C Nesbitt although the latter was not an unqualified success,as a drunken reveller tried to rip off my string vest, causing severe string burns.

On one picture I am dressed as a woman with a vast bosom, although I have no recollection of whom I was supposed to be, a fact perhaps not unconnected with the large number of empty cans of McEwans Scotch visible on the table.

Now New Year's Eves are spent quietly, watching the telly and moaning how pathetic the fare is compared to the old days. Jools Holland is a pale substitute for Andy Stewart.

If only we could turn the clock back...