Playing catch up on my mission to post 52 poems this year, here is The Way They Were, which was published in the Chichester Festival open mic collection “All That Jazz”, in 2015
Mother’s mantra: don’t come home pregnant
Mothers were like that then
Mine was a perfect sketch on a dress pattern sleeve,
cinched waist, smartly starched, Simplicity and Vogue
Each afternoon she took the bus from Oatlands Drive
to Sainsbury’s, for haslet, sweet dip fancies and loose tea
When I did come home expecting
she became a message on a greetings card
The best grandmother in the world
Blurry black and white picture of my parents Peggy and “Chips” at Pagham, West Sussex in Summer 1947. The head full of curls, in the lower left corner, is me. The marriage between my intelligent, anxious mother and my free-spirited playful father, was never going to work but many years later, long after their final separation, he said “Never had a shirt needing a button when I was with your mother”. I like to think it was his way of saying he loved her. I recall their marriage in my book “Other People’s Stories”. While I was writing the book, I felt I got to know my late father, understood him better and forgave him for not being the ideal husband for my mother. She used to tell me she’d have liked to be a vicar’s wife. I think she would have made a very good one, since the job is pretty steady and a vicar tends to do as his boss demands.
I am posting The Way They Were on the anniversary of my parents’ marriage ceremony, seventy-nine years ago. I still have the certificate, which is littered with crossings out and corrections by the Registrar, which has always made me see it as symbolic.