'Beach of Promise', the first one:
It's a summer's day on the English coast
The sun says I'll be here all day
it's not an idle boast.
And two little girls who live in the town
are heading for the beach now each has got
her toast and cocoa down.
Ivy and Gladys, off they scram.
Ivy and Gladys, on the tram.
Ivy and Gladys heading for
the side of the sea which they adore
in this silent Charleston movie age
when hats were in
and twelve and three pence halfpenny
is a decent working wage.
Ivy and Gladys in the sand.
Ivy and Gladys in the garden of England.
Ivy and Gladys by the bandstand,
Ivy and Gladys close as clams in Ramsgate
This is called 'Mummy':
Mummy when I cut my chin
You came and kept the bleeding in.
You clasped it like it was a purse,
Way back once you were a nurse.
You shone my brother's fencing trophy on the mantel-shelf
and you ensured my sister felt of value, when unsure of it herself.
Our daddy's earnings were not large
but you ensured we always had the best,
You strenuously stretched the pound
You even found enough for me visit distant Fourth Division football grounds,
like Chesterfield and Barrow.
You darned the socks you knitted too
for me you recommended blue.
While we still had the stairs to tread
You held me very tightly when you took me
nightly up to bed.
You knitted up my broken skin
This narrow mark upon my chin's
a mark of how you held it together, Mum.
And the third one, 'Mum's the World', and this is when we moved to Bristol from Luton; we went to Bristol.
In nineteen-seventy, we come
to Bristol City, 'cos my Mum
has seen an advert for some rows
of brand new chalet bungalows
at knockdown prices in The West
and mum knows bungalows the best.
In Pucklechurch they both invest:
some country air, some country folk,
electric fires and no more smoke.
My dad has just retired from work,
but not a man to rest or shirk
he takes up all the household chores,
he does the carpets on all fours.
He empties bins, he fills the shelves
while Mum, the younger of themselves
in Staple Hill inspecting bras
with girls who are not 'la de dahs'
she takes an interest in cars:
she gets a mini, eight years old,
she gets a man to paint it gold
and once a week her hair is dressed
inside the chalet in The West
and once a month she takes a rest.
To lose the pesky Learner's plates,
it takes a while, it's worth the wait
and Gladys comes to add to this
from Canada, to see her sis
and this completes my mother's bliss:
so many years since they last clapped
their eyes and hands and overlapped
and Glad goes home and when she's gone
my mum she drives the motor on.
The key is curled, the world ignites.
She drives and dad, he dips the lights.
thank you very much indeed
'Beach of a Promise', 'Mum's the World', 'Mummy', unpublished poems, copyright © John Hegley 2011, used by permission of United Agents (www.unitedagents.co.uk) on behalf of John Hegley.