I was Alice’s Aunty Once

When I was a teen, I worked in a home for the elderly. One of the old ladies had dementia…

Fourteen years old
And radiating a future
Of fruitful tomorrows
In this graveyard for
The not yet dead
With the old bones
Rattling around in this
Old people’s home
One ear on the
Monotonous drone
Of dead eyed visitors
And one eye on
The steady tock
Of the analogue clock
As death permits
A last cup of tea

They had memories – Once
But these were stolen
And minds were broken
Words come tumbling
Out like retrospective
Dramas spoken
Wartime lovers
Dancing with hope
This hopeless dance
With feet that may not
March next week
As they savour
The last of their rations

I was Alice’s aunty once
As I led her to her
Favourite chair
Skin so parchment thin
Her story was written
In the spiderlike veins
And downy hair
Eyes trusting as a child
That thinks it’s going
To Paris
But is cruelly going
Nowhere decent
Nowhere they could feast
On warm croissants

I wondered
Was this aunt
Loved
And hoped that
I could share a bit
Of my naïve heart
I prayed I could lovingly play
A nurturing movie star
In her world of
Broken dolls and
Tattered teddy bears
Where she was now
The child
And I, the child
Was now
Very grown up
Indeed.

© 2020 Sarah Drury

Butlins

It’s holiday time, we’re going to Butlins
Only fifteen sleeps ‘til our only break
From this grimy, shitty council estate
This holiday made of fine gold plate
It’s going to be great, it’s a break from depressing
It’s going to be bloody great!

Two little girls in the dodgy hood
Council kids but our manners are good
Journey to heaven in the clapped out car
Two cheery fingers to our neighbourhood.

Holiday paradise in concrete banality
Chalets which challenge your standards and sanity
But fun filled, paradise days ahead
Contests that challenge your dignity and head
Wrecking your arse at the donkey derby
Saddle sore, bum sore, wallet sore, pride sore

And how lovely are your lanky legs?
Will you win a cheap prize for your nice shaved pegs?
Lusting red coats drooling, sexist society dregs.
Wanting some sex action, wanting to beg.
Deluded kids paraded along in a beauty frenzy
Back in the day when our clothes weren’t trendy
Forced to look ‘pretty’ with fake smiles plastered on
Along with mascara that weighed a ton
With spider lash eyes and blood stained lips
And a quirky walk with swaying hips.

But my favourite was the knobbly knees competition
Half of those blokes should’ve seen a physician
With their bones sticking out like a medical condition
And we laughed and we mocked, making cruelty our mission.

And the treats and the candyfloss, toffee apples and junk
And the swimming pool after, we should really have sunk
Feel the water around us, not council land concrete
As the happiness choked us, to smile was a treat
And the fun of the fair, the lofty big wheel
Bravely swinging the carriage, nerves made of steel
And to some it was nothing, but for us a big deal.

And the beach and the beach and the beach and the beach
Feeling the sand beneath our working class feet
Thermos flask ready, not warm council pop
(when there was no money to go to the shop)
And sandwiches gritty with traces of sand
Which stuck to your fingers, wouldn’t wash off your hands

Lunches in dinner halls, military precision
Lukewarm and beige, with no varied decision
Warm, canned fruit cocktail with a smidgen of cream
Or pink, firm blamanche like a traumatic dream!

Whiling away hours in cash hungry arcades
Pennies to spend, simple games to be played
50p limit, we’re not made of money
While the rich kids scoffed and thought it was funny

The memories, the memories, the Butlins of old
They were my best times, my moments of gold
And the council kids were jealous no holidays for them
I wished I could take them, the great Northern gem.

©2020 Sarah Drury

We Didn’t Care

Runny nose
Scabby knees
Skimming pebbles
Climbing trees
Dirty plasters
Nits in hair
Grimy hands
We didn’t care.

Cast off clothing
Socks as gloves
Bin bag sledges
Dens above
Staying out
Til sun had gone
Love me not
Am I the one?
Sindy dolls
With butchered hair
Times were hard
We didn’t care.

Slides stand tall
On hard concrete
Stand on swings
Jump off the seat
Health and safety
Load of rubbish
Heads cracked open
Children vanish
Want a sweetie
See my pups
Stay away
From weird grownups
Sunday school
Say a prayer
White or black
We didn’t care.

Cars no seatbelts
Smoke in pubs
Dicing death
Work men’s clubs
Cigarettes
Were everywhere
Juicy blackjacks
Penny a pair
Milk on doorsteps
Kiss or dare
Not a dime
We didn’t care.

No computers
No ipads
No iphones
Grumpy dads
Mums in aprons
Apple pie
Cute pet hamsters
Always die
Old gas fires
Huddle round
Kettle makes
A whistling sound
Nowt for breakfast
Cupboards bare
But we were happy
We didn’t care.

©2019 Sarah Drury

It was nice, the Saturday Tea

It was nice
The Saturday tea.
Family sitting around the living room
Scraps of greasy newspaper balanced on our knee
Last week’s news saturated in chip fat
This week’s wellbeing, the cholesterol it’s enemy.
Scraps of batter, vinegar, swimming in a sea of mushy pea
A battered sausage promising dancing tastebuds
A haddock resplendent in its crispy, greasy coat
Chips golden like they’d been deep fried by the sun
Cuisine like nirvana, sliding deliciously down my nostalgic throat.

And it was nice
Nice, the Saturday tea
When the adults spoke in voices joyous and
Pretended they were ok with the world
And acted like the miseries of life didn’t start with me
That I wasn’t a pain, a burden, an inconvenience
That if it wasn’t for my being alive they would be free.
The day when people smiled and a glimpse of civility I could see.

As my fingers squelched through greasy pickings
A sensory challenge, but I could bear the feeling
Of the slimy, oily potato, hot and dripping with lard
I basked in the feeling of peace that the rustling newspapers
Might bring messages about my emotional healing.
For Sunday to Monday the grown-ups my sanity were stealing
My little sanguine heart and my quaking mind were reeling
With fear.

But it was nice,
The Saturday tea
When the air was pink with harmony
And the words were smooth with happy vibes
Pulsing through the atmosphere, the chips and fish the smooth over bribes
And the smiles were painted and the laughs were dubbed
And the falsity washed over the truth like the shifting tides.
And the walls were witness to the violence
That on the days when the chips didn’t bear witness to the cruel divides
Of a child distraught.

But it was nice
The Saturday tea
When the fish didn’t swim in the Atlantic Ocean
But sacrificed their lives to decorate our plate
When the sausage paid homage to the pig it once was
When the food on our platter was bloody first rate
When the child and the adult spoke in civilized phrases
When the child wasn’t bullied by an adult irate.
And the child pretended happy because she couldn’t create
Her safe place

But it was nice
The Saturday tea
The smiles, the laughs, the faux safety
The grease, the Tizer, the chips on your knee
The magic of illusion, the wish to be free
Yes it was nice.
It was a haven
The Saturday tea.

© Sarah Drury 2019