Our ancient rural market town lies bathed in Sabbath calm,
Silence soon shattered by the ring of my alarm.
Dad stands in kitchen dubbing boots, suspended from green painted box
'Be careful where you aim that brush, you'll soon end up with polished socks.
There's faggot butties in your sack,' beverage tin for Billycan.
Enough supplies to quench all day the fiery thirst of sweating man
For Daddy's off to work today, driving the train, delivering freight,
Pedalling furiously through sleep-drenched town 'Now hurry up - you're always late!'
'Take that brown envelope to Fred' calls Dad, collecting bike from shed
'Don't bang the knocker really hard, Fred's working nights and still abed.'
Away I go clutching brown packet, the pealing church bells making a racket.
Dear Mrs Fred stands smiling there, delicious smells waft through the air.
'I'm baking biscuits, first batch cooked, I'm sure there's one or two to spare,
I wish Fred wasn't fast asleep - just hear him snore, be careful how you close the door.'
My piano stands in the front room, we'd have great fun with songs and tune,
Express Delivery L. M. S. in wooden crate left at the station,
I'd saved my cash for many moons, now jubilant, filled with such elation.
Sam the strong Shire with shaggy socks, stands patiently before the Dray
Sun-kissed shiny brasses chink proud, Sam decked out in bright array,
A jug of cocoa, hot and sweet - for gentle Sam, a special treat.
Crunchy carrots, sugar lumps - 'Why Missus you sure come up trumps!'
Grandfather stands in middle room, no sunshine here in semi-gloom
Ticking loud with solemn measure, jealous guard of precious treasure,
A loving cup in porcelain formed like a train.
Adorn our sideboard, snuggling close 'Now which piece do you fancy most?'
The last dough deftly rolled and cut 'the secret's, lemon peel you see!
I've filled a bag for your dear mum, to have a treat while drinking tea.'
A visit to see Aunty Kit arranged by cuddly Granny
'Fill Jumbo's bowl, please hurry up the bus will never tarry.'
No time to whisper words of love to Granny's canine friend
It's best foot trudging forward to the driveway's gated end
'The devil's early,' Granny cries, 'how dare he come so soon.'
Dear Granny's usual smiling face now creased with frowns and gloom
Inspector Charlie shall be told next time I visit town.
'That jolly driver grinning thought himself a red faced clown'
The Masons Arms comes into view complete with painted seat
'Our bus fare saved this shandy beer will be a welcome treat'
'Where have you been?' cries Aunty Kit, 'The clock is striking two.
How could you patronise the pub, a genteel girl like you?'
'Your dried up dinner's on the plate, congealed gravy, such a state.'
Cream crowned syrup tart tastes fine, washed down with tea how quite divine
'Come down the cellar Nance' calls Kit 'Bert's picking beans we'd best be quick'
The home-made wine makes Granny choke, that Bert sure is a brilliant bloke
A chip of plums outside the door so succulent and tempting
'Don't touch those plums, if once you start the chip will soon be empty
Bert's delivering them straight after tea, you two can come as well.'
A ride home in the Austin Seven to Granny sounds quite swell
The shining shampooed ancient car cranked up spurts clouds of smoke
Convulsed with giggles Granny rocks thinking of wine and secret joke
Beneath the weight of Granny's curves the springs reply with groans and creaks
Two juicy stolen plums stick out from Granny's crinkled cheeks
Sticky stones hide in our pocket as we chug homeward like a rocket.
The fiery late September sun beats down on hard baked clay
Sunbeams dance kissing crisp curls of Dollie fleet footing on her way
Occasional twittering birdsong, blends with chattering voices shrill
Nimble fingered folk pick hops 'I've made it' breathless Dollie cries speeding down the hill,
'The doctor's calling, Jackie's ill, we think it might be croup,'
The gossip stops and silence falls among the busy group
'Tell both the boys to stay with me when out of school at four,'
'The master's entertaining send them round to the back door.'
Sunlight transforms creeper clad walls to richest ruby hue
The dark forbidding moat now briefly bathed in sapphire blue
While deeply mullioned windows peep like stars so diamond bright
But look! black Jasper's bark announce the boys are now in sight
'We're really hungry Doll' they cry 'What have you cooked to eat?'
Bubble and squeak spits in the pan, 'I've made your favourite treat,'
The supper over 'Now out to play with bat and ball you two.'
Gambolling around with Jasper as if released from distant zoo
'It's time for bed, now not a word creep up back stairs in stockinged feet.'
'I'll join you when I've washed the plates just snuggle down between the sheets.'
The bedsteads dance in candlelight illumined by silver moon
'I can't sleep here' poor Archie wails, 'this is the haunted room,'
Jasper must lie on counterpane protecting us and ghosts to catch
Some coloured rag and length of string secures the wooden latch
The clock strikes twelve, a vixen howls the door latch clicks or is the moonlight playing tricks.'
A hooded monk with flickering lamp glides silently across the room
High hackles rise on Jasper's back bright eyes shine scarlet in the gloom
Doll stuffs a sheet between clenched lips 'Go back to sleep, it's just a dream,'
Morning's here - the cockerel crows bright sunbeams gleam transfiguring scene
But look! What is that near the cellar door? The spectre's lamp lies on the floor.
'Who left that lamp? It wasn't there last night' the boys declare
'Brave Jasper deserves crisp bacon rind, there must be some to spare.'
Our tall horse chestnut dressed in green, adorned with candles roseate bright
And during autumn conkers yield treasure for passing schoolboys' great delight
Our manager is Sergeant Ted, ruling his office with iron rod
'Close down the Andy Pandy club at once - no further chat until our lunch.'
String-handled carrier bag arrives, the scraping chair legs come alive
We dive to hidden window seats, doughnuts and lardies daily treats
Sergeant Ted retrieves red flask, enjoying break from daily task
The counter window gleaming bright, slides upward with a sudden bump.
Our giggling gossip quickly stops - Sergeant T's 'Good morning' makes us jump
'I'll phone your order straight away, our lorry delivers goods next day
Our special blend PM and B provides prolific crops just wait and see.
That noise? It's our accounting machine, updates accounts work like a dream
Bowled over by sixties' science we have been.'
Descending step and measured tread, announce our smiling Mr Fred
'Good morning if you please,' the numbered discs of corded switch, Fred can manipulate with ease
Thrice-married Mrs Ethel calls, dressed in her flowery overall
'I've brought wedding cake and damson wine, Eli's verdict quite divine.
I'm writing to the new PM concerning tax - you should pay double
And all like you unmarried folk without a chap it just spells trouble.'
There's Albert's trusty van, grey as an elephant's hide, loaded with goods stacked high
Guarded by Leonard, straight and proud, delighted thoughts of country ride
Overalled shopmen tramp the floor supplies for farmers, builders and much more
'Don't stow the cash box in the safe, we need more change,' calls Bill, the shop through the back door
The week is almost at an end, wages delivered by Mr. Frank
'Now don't go wild and overspend, please spare a pound to go in the bank.'
The clattering keys are now at rest, machines clad in their plastic vests
'Goodnight,' we cry with furtive glance at office clock, into the street we quickly trot.
THE TIMELESS TEME
Oh rich land of Teme billowing fold on fold away to distant Wales
Marching steadfastly towards Woodbury Hill shielding its secret battle tales
Deep river - you of many moods, flowing onward towards Knightsford
Beneath Powick's ancient bridge, scene of civil war and sword
The quaint brick cottage at Broadheath boasts birth of Edward Elgar
Inspired by chequered sandstone hills observing myriad ages from afar
Warm bright April days tease with promises of brilliant June to come
The crab and cherry laced with clotted blossom bowing to the sun
Kissed by the touch of light spring breeze anticipate their weightier crop
The ground gold carpeted with primroses and cowslips await proud chestnut tapers drop
A lazy distant cuckoo calls blending birdsong with fragrant summer scene
Close woolled Shropshire sheep and Herefords munch content through endless pastures green
A distant band of spiders spin their web of straw hued string
Prepare for late September hops when chat of pickers ring
Through tented aisles of petalled silk with whorl and scroll decked high
Uprooted poles their whispering cones across the crib now lie
Laborious days the rows deep hulled with ridget spade and beck
Await Black Country and Welsh folk towards their annual trek
Cone shaped kilns like witches' steeples with crooked hats askew
Vanes pointing leeward to the sky directing gaze to skyward view
With plaited hat and strange flat shoes the bagster sings below
Stamping with vigour crushes the hops towards charcoal's scarlet glow
In nineteen six sedate Miss Larkin chugged up Clifton Hill
'Twixt Hanley Child and Shelsley Walsh, four minutes flat, it was a thrill!
The silent hopyards wait in vain no more Black Country jokes will ring
Their poles stripped bare by huge machines, loud throbbing engine ruthless din
The Oast House luxury B and B farmhouse breakfast, jumbo size enjoying home grown food and wine
And Clifton Hill the same today crowds throng to timeless Shelsley Hill Climb.
Aunt Elsie, such a skillful soul, worked all her life in gloving
Encapsulated in each pair, a smile and smidge of loving,
Chugging homeward on the bus, oblivious to the claptrap
A brand new cook book balances precariously on her lap.
The page lies open 'C' for cake, which she will bake tonight
A birthday treat to please her chum. Aunt E decides it will be just
'I'll cook my supper first,' she thinks, poddling round the Avenue
Unties her shoe laces easing from feet as the back door comes into
The succulent sultana cake spooned lovingly into its tin
Aunt licks the spoon, no salmonella fears from raw eggs to waste, a
Descending orb of setting sun, lures Aunt into its light,
Collecting hoe an hour's fresh air and gardening, two of life's
Dog rose and sweet honeysuckle tantalise with sweet perfume
Eradicating tempting whiff, sultana cake baked to perfection
wafting through each room.
Bathed, hair wound tight in 'Dinkies' the cool cotton sheets - then
sleep - just right.
'Aunt Elsie please rescue me, a moist fruit cake, birthday treat
doomed to cremation through the night.'
'Phew what a pong, it's to the oven I must dash!'
Filled with dismay forgetting porridge, the saucepan descending
with a crash.
Delicious cake now just a wreck, its texture, granite hard,
A mini millstone jasper brown with lightning speed spins down the
The feathered friends squawk with dismay 'No breakfast treat for us
'Oh woe is me, it's shop cream cakes on birthday menu for our tea.'
These forty years you've lived with me my true
and trusted friend
Undignified you lie prostrate within the skip it is the end
Museums local I have phoned—the first exclaimed 'No thanks we
have no room for you and anyway it's far too new'
Though fifty still in perfect nick how could they be so cruel?
The second quickly said 'Victorian artefacts our favourites to
Now hoisted high upon the truck transported far away
With sunshine hot on cast iron feet, a final thrill you love the heat
You came to live here aged just ten—your owner said 'It needs a
home I won't be using him again'
As with a blush 'I'm getting wed, my man has bought a new
electric one for me'
The neighbours said 'Don't keep that thing, the flames leap high
into the sky, it surely will explode
'Fear not' the North Sea gasman said 'Converting just a
piece of cake—she'll cook as good as gold'
I've meditated on the dinners I've enjoyed, all thanks to you—thousands—fourteen
and a half at least
The cakes and scones are numberless shared out with friends who
grinned and said 'That was a splendid feast'
My sleek new cooker Parkinson arrived clad in blue shroud
The fitter sneered and taunted you fortunately not too loud
Goodbye Dear Dvořák—rest in peace perhaps more New World
treats to bake
To feed the angels in the sky, and thanks again, you were just great
The shafts of gold sun shine bright at Sabbath's
My watch pointing to 8.30 on this summer morning
Piano notes lie silent now—hymns practised to perfection no further
Disturbing neighbours rest, refreshed with tea resume their sleep
The pork laid out in casserole, the oven lit it's door closed tight
Resembling not the plump pink pig who stares with tiny eyes so bright
Sharing the wall with eleven chums gazing reproachfully making me feel
The proud Vicar stands in snow white robe joining the congregation
Old and new familiar tunes worship shared among the small faithful
Time for the sermon 'please don't mumble' I tell my tummy 'folks with grumble'
Mr. Bob says 'Come for coffee'—'Yes please' I
say and grin with glee
An hour slips by we laugh and chat—I mount my bike waving 'Goodbye-ee'
'Someone's burning rubbish' I mumble pedalling fast along
Unlock the door with lightening speed so much for thoughts of human
The precious pork and casserole black as an undertakers hat
The pork, blacker than four black cakes from Pontefract
Moreish as liquorice no way that's a certain fact
My Sunday lunch pasta and cheese stirred watchfully with wooden spoon
I glance furtively to the wall on piggy's face grins now replacing
'I'll have a whopping crop this year they
almost touch the ground'
'This weather suits blackcurrants fine mine are the best
'There's Jack and Tom, old Uncle Bert, my mates from down the
'I'll pick them after work next week when I have had my
'And what of me?' cries Mum 'You know I always win a
prize with my blackcurrant conserve'
'Oh hang the jam, a pound or two I'll hold back in reserve'
Two days have passed with chips apiece we head straight for the
Closed with a clang along the Sandy Path we traipse—'the 2.15
I'm sure is late'
'Oh please let's stop the signal's down I hear the chugging of
'I'll give the driver such a wave' my short fat legs dislike
'Don't loiter there—no time to waste I need your help to pick
'The busy Western line we'll cross it is the nearest route'
'S-sh keep quiet now and run—here comes the 2-15 to Paddington'
SW written boldly on the board 'It's saying Sunny Weather' I
inform my Mum
'It tells the driver 'Sound the Whistle' you really are a
A backward glance at locomotive roaring past—the sweating fireman
shovels coal feeding the snorting dragon
'Oh botheration' Mum exclaims 'It's Uncle George hoeing
up weeds I do believe'
'You've sure been busy Mrs. C and beat old Harry to the post,
your secret's safe with me'
A broad grin spreads across his face 'And thanks the fruit will
make a splendid pie'
'My lotties next your man's—if he should quiz me I shall fib
and tell a small white lie'
Dad says 'There's so much fruit I'll take a flask and sandwich
too—it will be dark before I'm through'
Clad in my PJ's looking out 'Dad's nearly home' to Mum I
A hang-dog look across Dad's face Mum asks 'Is this the fruit—a
'I've picked some Dog Rose they smell sweet and now will soak my
'I met old George, he grinned at me—a thief's been here it's
plain to see'
I felt quite sad for poor old Dad and hope jam butties made him glad
It's June sixteenth the van pulls up—two jolly waving faces there
The larder very quickly is knocked down—it's wreckage cleared, the
Where has that woman found the dosh? A brand new kitchen, very posh!
I lost all track of passing time with daily sunshine quite sublime
At coffee breaks we perched on stools, how many times? We broke all
Passing pedestrians heard us sing our laughter made the rafters ring
The curtains Holier than Righteous long since banished to the skip
'Your new blind's here' calls Mr. John when I tramp home from daily
'Come have a look' through ochre dust glimpse paper sack in beigy
'No expense for you is spared—there is no need to trek to town'
John joined the Roadshow at the castle—for me no sign of queues or
'Don't be afraid we have a top security guard of highest grade
My whacky jokes held no appeal—poor Teddy thought me quite unreal
He climbed aboard the van with Will—the promised lunch gave him a
I waved them off, he gave a smile, the morning's work had proved a
It's nearly time to lay the floor, fine marbled quarries who needs
The planks are laid down atop some bricks—'just jump across them
that’s the trick'
Next day a worried Will arrived 'Thank goodness you are still alive'
'I'm glad you haven't fallen down—sleepless lay 'till after five'
I wish someone had made a Vid—I must have looked a crazy kid
Balanced on plank with long thin stick my kettle to retrieve
I'd just survive without cooked grub, withdraw my tea and then I'd
My visitors soon stepped inside at transformation nearly died
John's fine paperhanging filled them with awe—they loved the brand
new stained oak door
Opening drawers and cupboard doors 'You've even got a skirting board'
They loved to stroke the textured wall, anaglypta fever enjoyed by all
It's finished now and quite complete, the neighbours rush past down
'So quiet' they say 'You miss the boys?'
With secret smile I say 'Just watch this space phase two will follow
Your sleekly contoured feline form strolls silently across the yard
Morning sun kisses bright topaz eyes their nonchalant gaze belies your
Of precious territory—dexterous leap resounding thud lands atop the
smooth coped wall
Stretch out and flex those long sleek limbs—swish stripy tail enjoy
the taunting sound of thrushes call
Watch chattering girls in overalls green rush through the door at
change of shift
But hunger pangs are gnawing now, maybe the cook can spare a gift
You slink towards the kitchen door sniff breakfast smells perspective
Alas—cook's voice rings out—right foot poised to strike she shouts
'Clear off you greedy cat—no more'
Undeterred you brazen stand, Hurrah here comes your friend kind Sister
'Are you a hungry puss?' she cries producing breakfast from a can
I wield my mop on bathroom floor and bend to move the rubbish bin
To find you sitting preening face atop the bin, gazing through mirror
with pussy grin
It's afternoon siesta time, but not for me, with knuckles poised I
give the bedroom door a knock
You lie relaxing on the bed, if Missus but knew she'd die with shock
I'm not supposed to let you stay should turf you out and double quick
You'd gently jump on Sadies's lap and tangle wool from her to knit
She loves to see you share her bed with monkey made from astrakhan
Or join tomorrow's seaside trip with patients in converted van
It's Christmas Eve the Hall ablaze with friendship love and light
The tinselled tree it's branches crowned with multi-coloured lights
Music propped upon the stand—fingers poised, the carol singing
should sound grand
The first verse now is almost through I might have guessed it would be
Sidling round feet through legs you creep to land on keys with sudden
Those dreadful dischords can't be me, the people loudly laugh with
The spring days came around with steadfast march towards summer's
But sudden death awaited you—a hit and run man knocked you down
We bathed your fur with scalding tears, that day confirmed our
Watching the cars another thrill, alas your road sense was just nil
Yet if I pause when walking past you still sprawl out on sunny grass
©2013 Linda Core