Tuesday, 1 January 2013

and after the bells...

So here we are in another year. How 2012 has flown by.

I'm drinking a coffee after a great evening, and thinking of New Years past. Well it is a time to reminisce, maybe shed a tear for those no longer with us, and rejoice in the memories!

I grew up in Corby in Northamptonshire, England, a town said to be more Scottish than Scotland. As one of the few token English, my parents embraced the tradition of Hogmanay with fervor. Having a child was no obstacle. One house was chosen as the venue, and various children would be bundled up in thick eiderdowns ( usually with a gold colored silky cover if my memory serves), and all put into one bedroom, where we giggled and chattered until...

It was time!

About half an hour before the bells (Big Ben on the radio until we got a TV) and usually only five minutes or so after we'd finally fallen asleep, we'd be taken downstairs to watch The White Heather Club, and listen to Duncan MacRae (I think) do his rendition of The Wee Cock Sparra!.

Then someones dad—usually mine as he had the darkest hair, and at 5'8" was strangely the tallest of the men—would be shoved out of the back door with a dram, a lump of coal, and a piece of black bun or shortbread. These were the gifts—which signified the house would have food, drink and warmth in the coming year—he had to hand over when he was allowed to re enter the house. It was a tradition where I lived to hand over a coin as well for wealth...though that might jut have been 'our' tradition.

This was of course, after the Bells.

On the stroke of midnight the door was opened to usher out the New Year and I seem to remember then shut again... I wonder where we were then? In limbo maybe. Then once the bells were over, the door was chapped (knocked) and the door opened to usher in the New Year and the the first footer who handed over his gifts and got hugs, kisses and a wee dram. Then the adults partied, and us kids got a wee drink ourselves. Mine was always a very week port and lemon (yuk, just give me the port lol), and hen I was older, a Snowball. (yuk)

As I got older, I began to go to my own parties, but nothing was ever so exciting as that eiderdown clad walk through the streets, with everyone singing and happy, and shouting Happy New Year. 

And bear in mind, in England at that time, New Year's Day was not a bank holiday, so most revelers had to drag themselves to work, often wearing the same clothes they'd gone out in many hours earlier.

Now I live in Scotland, but nothing seems as good as the 'Good Old Days'...

Do you have memories like this?

Happy New Year everyone,

love R x


  1. What a lovely way to bring in the new year! Happy New Year Raven x

  2. I remember the coal thing from my East End childhood too.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year Raven! I did try shoving the OH out of the backdoor with a lump of coal but he refused!

  4. My poor old uncle was shoved out the door with the dog at 11.58. He walked around the block and came in the front door just after the bells.

  5. Happy New Year!!