Sunday, January 01, 2012


Jean Stirling by PhylB
Jean Stirling, a photo by PhylB on Flickr.
New year always makes me think of my granny. Until I was about fourteen we always spent new year at my granny's flat and it always followed the same format.

From 6pm till just before midnight she became a manic demon. She got down on all fours scrubbing the floors with a tiny sponge, checking every corner for dirt. All hell would break loose if so much as a crisp wrapper remained in a bin her house as we approached midnight. She'd scream at us like an army sergeant major till she was safely into the next year. Superstitious to the point of insanity, my brother would be thrown out in all weather minutes before the bells with the last speck of dust in a bag while I remained in the kitchen baking the obligatory shortbread from her 'Lofty Peak' cook book. Burning it was not an option of course because it might then constitute rubbish and woe betide me if I should be the creator of pre-Bells rubbish!

One year poor Derek had the misfortune to be outside when the clock struck midnight... aged eight, short with dark reddish-brown hair, there was no way in hell he was getting to first-foot her so he was made to remain outside in the snow in his slippers until a kindly neighbour turned up with whisky and some more shortbread.

After the bells, we'd be allowed into her front room (a rare occurrence) where she'd play piano and we'd all sing till about four in the morning. I've no idea how the other three neighbours put up with the noise!

I guess if Anna had met her she might have called her Silly Mad Jean.


The Scudder said...

You'll be glad to see I've knocked all of those crazy superstitions out of your mum !

Phyl said...

Ditto - we'd to leave last night before doing the dishes so 2012 found my kitchen looking worse than Armageddon! (And I shudder to think what Marcel and Charlotte's rooms looked like - what the eye doesn't see...)