A New Year in Stanley  - 1952


The perception of Hogmanay through the eyes of a child.


By Exile


An electric hob, a bed, a sink, a carry-cot in blue an’ pink,

A roarin’ fire o’ logs was spittin’, and on the sideboard my mither’s knittin’,

In an upstairs Store Street ‘single end’, 1951 was about tae end,

Neighbours crammed in everywhere, three o’ them were on a chair,

Five o’ them were on the bed, fully dressed it must be said,

The rest were standin’ on the flair, there wasnae room for any mair,


The heady smell o’ port an’ sherry, the ruddy faces, contented, merry,

The distinctive odours o’ tobacco smoke an honest sweat frae honest folk,

Scorching heat frae the glowing fire, mixed wae booze frae Clarky’s Byre,

Generated bonhomie in the extreme, in fact, it could have been a dream,

I should have been sleeping hours ago, but I stayed up tae see the show,

This wasnae’ just another day, this was special,….Hogmanay,


When they sung ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’, it sounded like Bendals collie dug ‘Roy’,

But Jimmy Stewart was in good voice, ‘A Gordon for Me’ was his regular choice,

The “choir” enjoyed the 23rd psalm, and Cully’s rendition o’ “Nicky Tams”,

Singing the ‘Muckin’ O Geordies’ Byre’ Jock Cowan near stottered in the fire,

Saved by Snider who singed his arse, hysterical scenes o’ hilarity an’ farce,

They roared wi laughter everyone, then stuffed their mouths wi mair black bun,


The Bothy Ballads repertoire passed onto Harry Lauder’s songs at last,

Pate Jack eventually got the nod, an’ “Kept right on to the end o’ the road“,

Purler’s glass was overflowin’,  Puggit was ‘Roamin’ in the Gloamin’,

Trotsky’s  “Stop yer Tickling Jock”, was applauded throughout by Dolly Hancock,

Just as we thought there would be no more, Jeanie ’Brush’ “Parted on the Shore”,

Vigorously accompanying a’ the tunes, was Jock an’ Spud, playing spoons,


Electrifying energy , bawlin’ an’ roarin’, colossal consumption, gulpin’ an’ pourin’,

Unbelievable excitement waitin‘ for the ‘bells’, the anticipation was utter hell,

Then Mean Thomson’s wig fell off her head, an’ landed just beside the bed,

Whaur Holy Maggie had settled doon, she filled her breeks an’ left the room,

Half bottles were flee’in everywhere, nae’ body seemed tae have a care,

Exceptin’ Mean without her wig, yon sight wid gie a ghost a flig,


The room fell quiet, the wireless squawked, they stood in silence, no one talked,

Big Ben announced we had reached the time tae raise the roof wae ‘Auld Lang Syne‘,

Bells rung out tae a resounding cheer, glasses clinked wae whisky an’ beer,

Out wae the old, in wae the new, here’s tae us, whau’s like us? the answer damn few,

Auld Postie Panton, maist like tae be seek, kept on repeating “lang may yer lum reek“,

Handshakes an’ kisses, grins frae ear tae ear, everyone shouting ‘Happy New Year‘,




Recalling the scene on that night, it wasnae a very pretty sight,

Folks wi warts an’ plooks an’ boils, ears an’ noses like gargoyles,

Grisly men wae hairy chests whau wore long drawers an’ longer vests,

Gallusses an’ corduroy breeks, an’ hadnae had a bath in weeks,

Harris tweed bonnets on their heads, they even wore them tae their beds,

Occasional teeth an’ hairy ears, they’d come to celebrate New Year,


For a’ their faults an’ superficial flaws, they folks had lived through two world wars,

Trotsky, Cully and  Peter Jack were entitled to look forward an’ no look back,

The past meant hardship and exploitation, New Year was a total release of  emotion,

A pivotal point o’ hope for the future, a reminder we're only one o’ God’s creatures,

Be proud o’ yer background, family and friends, drink tae their health as this year ends

Remember affectionately wha’ went before us, Effie, Dora and the Store Street Chorus.

COPYRIGHT – Calluna Publishing