Donald MacLeod: Eat, drink and be merry before reality kicks in, taxes go up and Brexit goes phut

HAPPY New Year! I hope you all had a hoot at Hogmanay and brought the bells in with a clatter.

But what next? What does 2019 hold for us?

Well Nostra-Donald, your irreverent oracle of the obvious, flippant seer of the nonsensical, has scraped the booze and kebab grease from his cracked crystal ball and delved into the polluted mists of our possible pear-shaped futures.

And, I’m afraid to say 2019 looks as if it’s going to be another stinker of a year, in many ways worse than 2018.

If the notion of an alcohol-free January makes you want to reach for a bottle, you’d better man up, as the year ahead looks bleak for the licenced trade.

Many more pubs and clubs are set for closure, as business rates and employment costs go through the roof and more Scots decide to take the cheaper option of bevvying at home or, even more soberingly, not drinking at all!

Expect our health-obsessed government to announce plans to increase their tariff on the minimum unit price of alcohol. Which, along with the sugar levy, will make it just as expensive to dine in.

If you do venture out, wrap up warm, as another boiler-bursting Beast From The East is set to blow in and lay waste to the country in the first few months of the year.

And, of course, despite all the warnings, we will again be totally unprepared to deal with the chaos it brings.

That will be nothing compared to the utter chaos that will ensue when a totally unprepared UK has to deal with a no-deal Brexit.

Yes, after two years of shambolic negotiations the buck will finally stop at the Irish Backstop and the UK will be out on its own.

Jeremy Corbyn’s insincere calls for a general election will be ignored as will the SNP’s for another indy referendum.

As airports and ports go into meltdown, there will be an influx of inflatable boats ferrying migrants across the Channel. This time heading to France, not the other way about.

In a year when we’ll find it almost impossible to easily travel to the sunspots of Europe and have to rough it at home, it stands to reason the heavens will open, and it’ll bucket down.

Don’t expect much change from the banks. Last year, 774 branches were shut down, and that figure will double in 2019.

And don’t expect a slowdown in their insidious practice of closing cash machines, not when tumbleweed is blowing through our high streets and there are fewer stores and shops to spend the paper stuff in.

Expect yet more big retail names like HMV to fall into trouble. Sources suggest some of our best-known stores are looking a bit shaky after disappointing sales.

And if you think online banking and shopping online is the way to go, then be warned. I predict online hacking and cyber-attacks will reach unprecedented levels. There will be a theft so large it will cause global financial chaos.

And while the music may have died with HMV, the good news is that the live scene is still alive and kicking.

Here in Scotland there is a plethora of great music festivals to look forward to, including TRNSMT, Summer Nights, Party in the Palace and Belladrum.

I predict another belter of a night at the Scottish Music Awards and homegrown bands like The Snuts, Hyyts, Parliamo and Stephanie Cheape to start making their mark on the global stage.

The hilarious Doric singalong stage show Aye Elvis will be loved tenderly by audiences across Scotland.

Donald Trump will cling on to power and even run for a second term.

Michelle Obama will announce that, as he has driven her up the wall, she will stand for the Democrats.

Putrid Putin, Kim Wrong-Un, Mad Assad and Saudi’s butchers will all stay in power.

So roll on 2020, that’s all I can say!