Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Making Memories

Phil writes

It's difficult to comprehend the toughness of life for some of the people we encounter. Here, Doreen gives an account of her childhood with a mix of despair and a glimmering affection. This piece is verbatim from a conversation, arranged into loose 12-line verses. The poem is part of a wider collection we are putting together, an epic poem called Albion. 


a ration book and no money and air-raids and
to be honest, life, I found it hard
secondhand clothes, me mother and father
go up and see him, collect five bob
weren't a pleasant life where
Mother sent me
in the rain
shoes with holes, cardboard in the bottom
never had no fruit, a tiny bit of butter, dimps
how we lived, thought I'd forgotten

all that
it's gone, it's a different chapter
running errands for Gracie Fields
(our house next to the stage door, Oldham Theatre Royal
me dangling me legs over the wall)
Mario Lanza he were there looking young, Tommy Trinder
they'd buy me all sorts, chocs
they were lovely people
the stars
always holes in me shoes in the 30s
but I love

comfortable, it tastes comfortable
never known anyone not like chocolate
it doesn't love me though, puts weight on me
comfortable, Shirley Bassey, Arthur Askey
used to go down to the Wharf, to line up for everything
two potatoes
three apples
if you had a banana couldn't have no orange
marshmallows don't mean much to me
lined up for fruit in Higginshaw, lined up in all weather
secondhand clothes off a Tally Woman
always holes in me shoes in the 30s

collecting cinders at Lower Moor
cinders on me back cos we had no coal
oh it were heavy, dirty
weren't as clean as I should've been
secondhand, they'd class me as a tramp.
Council clogs, bloody uncomfortable
at the Seaman's Mission and Boundary Park the workhouse
she did laundry for the hospital
Mother'd take me and I'd sit
under the table while she washed, ironed
we had a room at aunty's; glad I got

weren't as clean as I should've
secondhand clothes off a Tally Woman
Mother'd have an old man at the door
chat to him
sure she gave him a kiss or two
cos he gave her his money
but they were lovely, the stars
and I were such a pretty girl, strawberry blonde
they loved me, sent me for errands
next to the stage door at Oldham Royal
dangling legs by the stage door, remember
the past is the truth.



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