Tuesday 22 November 2016

An item of luxury

'Fresh Air and Poverty' quilt exhibited at National Trust's Lyme Park, Cheshire.

‏Went to Scarborough, coach trip
‏One day of a trip in
‏100 years of charabancs
‏Granddaddy dug the first grave on Buxton Road
‏A pound a week
‏Made his wage up by tending graves
‏Youngest in a big family
‏My grandmother walking a basket round Buxton
‏Jam in, eggs in, cheese, butter and walked it
‏A luxury would be a new hat
‏(Hide it from the husband)

‏Farmed Moorside
‏It's now a school for naughty boys
‏The old ones took pride in hats
‏To church on Sunday
‏No hay on Sunday
‏Everyone in black
‏To funerals, new clothes for anniversaries
‏Easter bonnets

‏My mother's desire was a dining suite that matched
‏That was the desire: what the rich had
‏Cut glass and china
‏Every time she raised nearly enough money
‏They needed a new cow
‏And she kept being put off.

‏My grandad worked on the railways
‏Their holiday was a day on the trains
‏Walking to church on Sunday, the preacher said:
‏"I'm just drowning the dog
‏and then I'll be there."
‏A tin of pears on Sunday afternoon
‏Or shirt buttons that matched.
‏Grandfather died when I was 3
‏I had a habit of biting and he cured me
‏By offering me the poker.

‏Staffordshire pot dogs
‏A big table, Grandfather at the head in his
‏White scarf. Had pudding first to fill you
‏Then you didn't want as much meat.
‏Bread and butter trifle make it
‏Go further
‏A quiet life at Hollingsclough
‏Idyllic, three sisters rain or shine
‏Milking the cows in the field.

‏First war, father fought. Went when he was 18
‏Got gassed, finger frozen off
‏"You've know idea what muck is. You don't know
‏Hunger. When the horses died you'd cut a steak
‏And love it." When he got home
‏Mother wouldn't let him in cos of the lice
‏Stood there like a skeleton in his combies.
‏Didn't eat a lot in those days
‏His horse was in foal so it wasn't taken to the war
‏He delivered the coal cos no one else had a horse.

‏Mum and dad, their luxury was each other
‏Hardworking people all their life
‏Quarry, breaking stone 17 years
‏A lot of house moving, we were like
‏Sioux Indians
‏Cockroaches had a free run
‏Mum liked the flitting
‏Me, I spent 40 years farming and 20 driving trucks
‏That was my earthly career
‏My bed to lie in.

‏My mother made many beds
‏A woman before her time
‏Living over the brush, all the old ladies said
‏"They had a Chance Child."
‏Didn't want any charity from any
‏The Teapot Society
‏Kept money in it for the doctor
‏Made a wonderful cup of tea but it was
‏A blithering awful looking thing.

‏For us, the luxury was electric in 1947
‏(A job for children, filling the oil lamps
‏Polishing the glass)
‏And mains water
‏Turn the cattle out for the drinking
‏9 Bob a week and your keep
‏was the first wage I ever drew and my
‏Dad stood on a box in the hiring fair
‏Lived above the hayloft for a year
‏We weren't putting up with it, it's just what was.
‏Luxuries: flush toilet, indoor
‏(Dry Petty outside with white roses round the door
‏Two seats a biggun and a little)

‏Some of the desires were
‏Improving utility, not a diamond ring.
‏Water bowls so you didn't have to turn the cows out
‏To the meres. Toilet paper.

‏I would see strife as the struggle
‏To feed your children
‏My mother and father loved each other
‏(Once a week had a shave
‏The wife will suffer tonight)
‏Many children conceived on a
‏Sunday School afternoon
‏Dads sister died during childbirth
‏The doctor said, "You didn't pay
‏Last time so I'm not coming."
‏Strife is associated with our relationship
‏With others. War.
‏A bag of sugar, 200 weight, butter, cheese
‏Grow your own veg
‏Porridge, home-cured bacon, bottled fruit
‏Milk as a nightcap, bread and milk pobs.
‏Went to bed on that, sleep for a week
‏A luxury to lie there and see a blaze.

‏Borrow an Austin 12 for the wedding
‏A lot of injustice in the terms of men and women
‏Me mucking out by hand
‏Me milking 7 days a week
‏And my brothers got the farm.
‏Take it on the chin
‏I shan't know what to do with me halo.

‏There's an Act of Parliament called
‏In Place of Strife
‏War the solution to how we overcome difference
‏Sign to say you won't go on strike
‏In any circumstance
‏Shopping during the war, everything was weighed
‏The best of people and
‏The worst of people.
‏You drunken buggers!
‏Best darts team in Tideswell
‏When they were sober.

‏My grandchildren for a luxury
‏Would have a heated tractor cab with a radio
‏They've never picked up a shovel and brush to
‏Clean up after the cows
‏Transponders on their legs, they take
‏Regular holidays, luxury hotels
‏Is an important word to them
‏A few part-time jobs, two cars and a pint
‏When they can
‏50 years with one employer, all that's gone.

‏The world is big to them
‏Granddaughter works in NYC
‏Son holiday in Las Vegas hotel
‏They don't know hardship as I knew it
‏Farm with no money and a Morris Minor
‏The Teapot Society funded me
‏And one grand-daughter went to Thailand
‏Halfway round the world to get married
‏Why didn't she just do it at Cressbrook?
‏A good soaking on Saturday
‏A few shillings in your pocket and enjoy what you do
‏That's worth a lot.

‏Group poem
‏Farming Life Centre
Blackwell, Derbyshire

For more about the Stitching the Wars project please visit http://arthur-and-martha.blogspot.co.ukhttp://arthur-and-martha.blogspot.co.uk/

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