One of the positives of having to go through drawers and sort out books (and I have been SO GOOD today and been ruthless with my countryside and West Country books, only keeping two boxes from a big book-case full), is finding odd scribblings of mine. Here is one I would like to share with you. It takes me back over 60 years . . .
Queen of the Gypsies
Gap-toothed and clothed in rusty black
She lived a half-life behind
Greying net curtains and
Four waving pine trees.
I knew her for a witch.
If I was playing by the cherry tree,
She would always notice, and
Cross the road,
Fumbling her apron pocket and
Pinching my cheek with her sand-paper fingers.
She would smile gummily, and
Press a packet of 3 wrapped biscuits
Into my hand. They were always soft . . .
She was Queenie Goddard, whose grandsons visited every week, taking dock-tailed Mandy out of the flat cart and leading her through to the shed at the back. Queenie's home was a creosoted wooden shack, with four tall pine trees at the front, making it gloomy inside. I can see it so clearly, the dark bay mare being led through the gates, and then they would all go in for tea and soft biscuits I reckon!
A different world; and many of the advancements not for the better. Lovely poem! Reminded me of The Country Child, a delightful 'children's' book by Alison Uttley...which I still enjoy, 50 years on!ReplyDelete
Wasn't it? I have found records of the Goddard family hop-picking up in the north of Hampshire, but I think they had settled in our parish by late Victorian times. I have several of Alison Uttleys' books too and would never part with them.ReplyDelete
I too have heard of the Goddard family - why do we never see real gypsies these days? When I was a child they were a common sight passing through our village and my mother always welcomed them and bought something from their wares.ReplyDelete
Oh, I know the ones I knew from my youth are still living in the same area - though in more up-market dwellings than the caravans they used to have. Now they are in a sort of permanent smart chalet to replace it, or even brick-built homes. We used to have the gypsies knocking on our doors for clothing or shoes, or anything we wanted rid of, or trying to sell us pegs, or little mossy arrangements adorned with Primroses. I thought it was good that they always worked in a self-sufficient way. Now they are on sites, they still deal in horses, but do a lot of scrap work (certainly round here). The sons leave school around 10 (not that they ever attended much, normally!) and help dad out in the business.ReplyDelete
What a lovely descriptive piece of writing. I remember gypsies coming to the door when I was a child selling pegs and white heather.ReplyDelete
Thankyou RR. Yes, they called regularly with us, as they lived less than a mile away.Delete
Beautiful writing. I too remember the gypsies from my childhood even back then they were not always treated with kindness by some.ReplyDelete
Thank you MM. No, gypsies and tramps - neither very popular.Delete