Notions of Class

CAUTION: ADULT CONTENT

I had a very mixed childhood. My father, who died when I was seven, was a chartered accountant, and my mother had to do a variety of jobs to make ends meet, working her fingers to the bone. I wanted a better life, I wanted to be Middle Class. I studied at uni, wore the clothes, honed the accent, got a top notch teaching job, sang with professional choir. But mental illness got the better of me and my nicey nicey world came tumbling down. I have dropped my pretensions and am proud of my roots.

I tried to up myself
To better myself
To stick my nose in the air
I didn’t really care
Back then
About my poor, arthritic mother
Packing crisps down the factory
Or living in council shitholes
Because my mum’s wages
Were unsatisfactory
Single parent, widowed mother
One step from the shitheap
My story was just like another
And another
On our estate.

I never quite understood
The wine thing
Was it red with meat
And white with fish?
It had always been a case of
Just getting pissed
On any old cheapo plonk
I was a classless pisshead
Had to step up my game
Didn’t want my shameful roots
To catch me out again
So fucking sick of
Being related to the woman
Who cleaned up the pile of puke
So fucking sick of it

I thought a silk Monsoon dress
And a Cheadle postcode
Made me one
Of the elite
Talking like a village vicar
But fucking the men
Beneath the sodden sheets
Within the sordid walls
Not the epitome of discrete
And the milk man
Never noticed
The skulking, adulterous feet
Seeking silence
Betwixt the dawn chorus

Mental illness
Had no bounds
I was ebbing my life away
Behind bars in
Psychiatric compounds
Swapping my Monsoon frocks
For electric shocks
Lithium, Valium
Straight jackets worn like
psychosis condoms
On men’s misogynist cocks
Sanity took years
Craziness is
Classless

I am proud
Now
To be called working class
I’m proud to hold my head high
As I walk upon the needle littered grass
In this steel town hometown
Keeping my vowels plain and flat
And minimising my metaphors
Like I’m waltzing on broken glass
Don’t want my neighbours
To think
I’ve got
Pretentious
Notions
Of
Class

© 2020 Sarah Drury

A Fag, a Joke and a Natter

Happy anniversary in heaven to my husband. Would’ve been ten years today. You were very poorly but we had our love. A very ordinary, working class kind of love but beautiful all the same.

You were nearly broken
But we’d make do
A fag, a joke
A natter
A bit of
Something risqué
A bit of
Something blue
With our
Afternoon brew
We needed that
It saw us through
The shit

We didn’t have
Much time
Together
In this world
Just a few years
I’d call you
My stud
You’d call me
Your girl
I didn’t know
How quickly
Things would unfurl
I was naïve

You were nearly broken
But we lived
Our lives
Like Romeo
And Juliet
Declaring our love
Over a bacon baguette
And a bit of Sky
Tv not
The romantic
Outdoor kind
When your
Body’s fucked
And it’s
Benson & Hedges
That are
Silver lined
With
Imminence

You were nearly broken
But you were
Immaculate
To me
It only took
A shattered mirror
So that all your
Perfect fragments
That the world
Barely
Got to see
Were picked up
In your
Darkest hour
Piece
By broken piece
By me

I broke

©2020 Sarah Drury

New book – Hitting Hard

My new book, Hitting Hard, is a collection of raw, gritty poetry, written for spoken word, that depicts the realities of my working class world. From Britain’s Breadline Kids, to Skinny Culture, this collection comes from a Northern girl’s poetic heart.

But it here: http://mybook.to/hittinghard

I have seen

I have seen

Fifty years I have lived and breathed
And walked and talked and loved and
Questioned whether there was a God above
And seen and seen and seen

I grew up without a silver spoon in my mouth
A well turned out kid in a street where
Dinner on the table was an uncertainty
Curtains didn’t match the carpets
And Father Christmas shopped at the charity shop.
We were posh in a place where the houses
Were havens for people who didn’t even know
That poverty was a noun.
That they were a figure of speech.

I have seen, I have seen, I have seen

I have seen things that would shock off your socks
And things that would delight to a height that would dizzy your sight.
Miners striking, pits closing, men protesting
Industry collapsing
Thatcher in her ivory tower that was really made of bullshit
Snatching the milk out of the mouths of kids
Whose parents voted to sell off the council houses
Then wondered why their pregnant daughter couldn’t get on the council list.

I have seen Manchester bursting into life
Like the book of Genesis
But better than the Bible.
I have worn the flares of days gone by and diced with death by flammable shellsuits
Worn the doc Marten’s and felt tough as fuck
Worn the poodle perm, read trashy slag mags
Stood in the bike sheds behind school smoking wacky baccy fags.

I have seen, I have seen, I have seen

I have seen countries torn by war
People of Britain standing side by side with Bob Geldof
Feeding the world
Then telling the refugees
To fuck off out of our country
They say that every female Muslim that covers her head is downtrodden
and every Muslim man with a beard is on a suicide mission.
Bollocks.
They say they are stealing our houses and benefits and polluting our culture
But who the fuck would want to live in Syria?
And who the fuck would want to live in Scunthorpe?

I have seen Hull the city of Culture
Exploding in a riot of art and music
Proud of the city in which I was born
And that Banksy blessed us with his talent
Even if the Grafitti fuckwits have to piss on the blessing.

I have seen men with the young held in their trust
Men of the silver screen
Singing of two little boys with their toys
Or promising ‘Jim’ll Fix It’
When all that needs to be fixed is their fucked up minds.
Show us a picture, Rolf, of your prison cell
And sign your autograph on that sex offenders list.

I have seen, I have seen, I have seen

Days gone by, we lived in an analogue world
Then genius minds brought to life an epiphany
And the digital era was born.
No more hanging around at the phonebox
Freezing off yer tits to ring your mum when you were too pissed to get in a taxi.
No more 4 channels on the tv
and taping the top 40 on your shit recorder on a Sunday after your roast tea.
Society turning from an analogue three dimension into a digital rendition
Where friends become profile pictures on an app
People are only there when the power button is on
and your life is only one tweet away from fame or rejection
and within one facebook post you can encapsulate your life in a timeline collection.

I have seen 5 decades of change
5 decades of things never getting better, just different
Of technological advancement but societal decline
And racists still shout fuck off at skin that is different
And men pretend women are equal but are really indifferent
And we say the disabled are welcome but the size of the doors are no different
And the mentally ill need to talk but government funding’s no different.
And the divisions between wealth, greed, health and need are no different.

So I have changed.
And the world has changed
But I have seen that people never change. Not really.
People will always fear change and fear those who are not like them.
For they hold on to their fragile egos dearly.
And don’t see as clearly as

I have seen
I have seen.

 

©2019 Sarah Drury

The Clan of the Working Man

Inspired by happy times at the Belmont Working Mens Club in Hull as I was growing up.

The clan of the working man

I remember the clan
The clan of the working man
Waiting at the door of the modest establishment
For the member to sign the book
The book of acceptance
To say you were one of them
One of the working class men
Or women, who supped halves of lager and lime
Whilst sporting their wash, set and blowdrys sublime
Fresh from the hairdressers on Holderness Road
Their weekly routine, ready to dazzle the salt of the Earth
The heart of our country
The ones whose minds and souls and hearts are priceless worth.
The ones whose graft and dedication to the grind have given birth
To the bones of the city I was born in.
Hull
City of shipping and slavery abolition
And Amy Johnson and wartime ammunition
And bombing and resilience and grit and persistence
And not cracking under pressure, no matter the resistance
And the crack
The getting on a bus and the elderly lady
Stopping for a chinwag and a friendly word
And the people, the wonderful people,
Dragging you into the bosom of their hearts
The stories they tell, the stories they’ve heard.

But I was in, I was in the clan
As the band pulsed rhythms of sixties and seventies
And did I hear a bit of Sinatra for good measure?
And the flashy singer, a hit on the circuit
But not quite an income of millionaire treasure
And testing one two, one two,
Eyes down for full house
I sit with the clan as my palms sweat with
Eager anticipation
Hoarding my little pink books
The huddles of women praying for a line
In desperation
The room buzzing with a Northern energy
Don’t dare break the silence,
Each player no friend but a foe, an enemy.
And I feel the love, amidst this competition,
I feel the love, the kinship,
The clan held together by a monetary mission.
But this was real love
Real love.
The belonging, the warmth
Of these strangers who felt like a family
Who took me in and wrapped their generous hearts around me.
As the punters rocked to the beat of the act
And my spirit rocked to the feeling of being
One of them
one of the ones who on signing on entry had made a pact
to give back the love
to give back the warmth
to put my comforted heart into their all welcome glove

and I look at my grandfather
and see the joy etched on his age-mapped face
and I know why they have brought me here
I know they feel the belonging of this special place
As grandma chats to Ethel about Coronation Street
And they fantasise about the filmstars they’d like to meet.
And they compare the price of bacon at the local butchers
And how they cook their beef on a Sunday lunch
And swap recipes for apple pie and sweet cherry scones
And bitch about the harlot women they’d love to punch.
And grandad
Grandad sat by my side
And just sat and we enjoyed a moment
A moment that lasted every night
And these moments turned to memories
Now I am 50
And my grandparents are stars shining bright.
Amen.

©2019 Sarah Drury