There never seemed to be enough first footers to go round!
When I looked outside on New Year’s Eve this year the place was just like a morgue – no lights on in 95% of the street’s houses. When I think back it was quite common for a perfect stranger walking along the street to be collared into the role of being a first footer. A minute or two before midnight you got a piece of coal put in your hand and the front door was shut. You stood there freezing cold, but knew if you didn’t you would be in someone’s bad books. (You had to have a piece of coal to bring the house good luck). Now when the twelve o’clock bells started ringing the door would open, you were dragged in and a glass of sherry or port (awful drink) was put in your hand. So with the piece of coal in one hand, your drink in the other, everyone was wished a happy and prosperous New Year. After a minute or two off you went having done your good deed. You might just get a few doors away when, that was it, first footer again – there never seemed to be enough first footers to go round!
Now this might happen five or six times before you finally got the chance to escape to the party you were heading for in the first place. Everyone you met was in a good mood, wishing you a Happy New Year and lots of good luck. Not like today where you are lucky sometimes if your neighbours even say hello to you. Of course, back in them times you used to get well and truly drunk but you never came to any harm and always seemed to wake up in a house where someone knew you. Once awake and you got that lecture about being a fool and making a right ass of yourself. You always muttered those immortal words “never again as long as I live”, but next New Year you ended up just the same, if not worse.
I think these were great times and everyone joined into the New Year atmosphere of having a good laugh with lots of daft carry on, but like a lot of old traditions this one has just about bit the dust and gone forever.