was more exciting, as you watched and helped your mother as best you
could, to clean the house from top to bottom, in preparation for the
Scottish people did not spring clean. Hogmanay
was the time of year to clean away all the bad luck and spirits of
the previous year.
Some people, including my dad,
would be putting up new wallpaper (when it was available) in the
living-room on Hogmanay night. The rest of the house probably got
papered about once every 5 years, but the living-room, the main
focal point of family life, had to be done more frequently.
In the war years when wallpaper was scarce, walls were stippled.
A distemper paint (a powder base pain you mixed with water)
was applied, using either a net cloth or a
sponge to give an irregular pattern. Then,
the painted walls were boxed off using strips of colourful border
still see my father at just approaching midnight
- minutes before the
church bells, ships and factory horns sounded off announcing the New
Year - still putting the finishing touches to cleaning the windows."
"The bunker (the big sink surface you did your washing) would hold
the drinks glasses:
size and Cowboy saloon type nip glasses
dark green screw
top bottles of Imperial Pale
Stout, Whisky, Sherry or Port
Lemonade and Cordial, American Cream Soda.
drinks Sodas like Vimto, for the kids
VP or red biddy wine such as cheap rot gut Eldorado wine for the
teenagers who would take this brew first
footing and come home with the bottle still full.
was scarce during the war,
so mum used to buy currants and raisins to
make sherry wine which she kept in a large pot to ferment and mature.
As a kid, we could not resist a wee
swig from the pot when mum wasn’t looking."
the table would be the scarce food supply.
- Madeira cake
- spam or
salmon sandwiches if
you happened to know someone on the
black market, and
- maybe a pot of stovies (corned
beef and mash with
onions and beef stock) or home made soup.
Hogmanay and with food supplies short, if you took a pound of
margarine and a bag of sugar, stood in a long queue at
Bootlands the Bakers, just past Bangor Road, on Great Junction
Street, he would make
you a couple of rounds of Shortbread for half a
crown. That was 12.5 pence in
today's cash, but a lot of money in 1943."
"At midnight, you waited expectantly for
your 'first foot'
- the first person to visit
you after midnight. We never had to
wait long. Usually, someone was
right outside your door when the church bells rung, waiting to be
your first foot.
Sometimes, a member of the family would stand outside moments before
midnight just to make sure your house got a first foot. It
was considered to be unlucky to be your
own 'first foot'.
the 'first foot' happened to be a black haired, dark-featured person,
that was considered very lucky, especially if they brought with
them a lump of coal.
Unlike today, there were no organized parties.
The key was left in
the door and all were welcome. Neighbours from all over the place
just came and went as they pleased.
On many occasions, service men
and civilians, all complete strangers came to your house and were
welcomed without question."
There were no
televisions. CDs, DVD players or music centres in these days,
but if you were lucky enough to know a box player
(accordionist) you had a great time.
If not, not you had a singsong."