Stanza two

In this stanza, Lochhead continues her recollection of her childhood memory. It is later now and the cleaning is done so her mother turns her attention to getting herself ready.

She has her rollers in with waveset/and her well-pressed good dress lies in readiness across the candlewick bedspread upstairs. It is again the precise nature of the details like the candle wick and waveset that are so evocative and effective at establishing the time and place of the poem.

The exclamatory Nearly half-ten already and her not shifted! creates a distinctive dialect and adds a touch of humour as her mum must rush to ensure she is also ready before the clock strikes midnight.

This idea of the passing of time is one that Lochhead plays with in the poem. Here, her mum is acutely aware of the hands of the clock moving relentlessly towards midnight. Yet as the poem moves forward, the present is constantly being consigned to the past.

While it is impossible to ever capture and preserve a moment in time forever, poetry is Lochhead's vehicle for attempting to do precisely this.

Again the superstitions associated with this time of year are alluded to in the lines If we’re to even hope to prosper/this midnight must find us/how we would like it to be.

In other words, to ensure good luck we must create a warm, prosperous inviting atmosphere. The inspiration for the title of the poem is made clear in the new calendar that lies propped up on the wall, offering a new view of Scotland.

Again, superstition dictates that it is bad luck to replace the calendar until after midnight.

Ironically though, the view of Scotland offered to us in this recollection is of the past, again reinforcing the relentless passing of time.