HIGH TEA ON SUNDAYS.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
A BOY GOES FOR HIGH TEA AT HIS GREAT GRAN'S HOUSE IN 1950S LONDON

Submitted: April 01, 2013

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Submitted: April 01, 2013

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On some Sundays
you went for high tea
with great Nan Seeley
and you sat around a big table

with bread and butter
and tomatoes and celery
in tall glass containers
and lettuce and bowls

of whelks and shrimps
and winkles and other
seafood and the big fruit cake
and white plates

and napkins and glasses
and a jug of water
and great uncle told
the tall tales or jokes

and gran said
not in front
of the little ones
o they’ll not understand

great uncle said
and off he’d reel
and you sat taking
the bread and butter

and slice of ham and tomato
and looked at great gran
on the settee with her shawl
and grey hair and looking

weary and tired
and eyes closed
and your mother said
eat up and don’t waste

do you want some winkles?
great aunt asked
(winkles) you remembered
what the other boys said

in junior school (are what boys
have in their trousers
and girls have clams
said one of the bigger boys

with a snigger seen that
fat girl in the lavatory) winkles?
great aunt asked again
no thank you

you said
such a well mannered boy
gran said
not like some these days

said great uncle
pinning out a winkle
with a pin
you ate the bread and butter

and ham and watched
your old man
with his thin moustache
sipping his tea

and holding a cheese
and watercress sandwich
and you saw great gran
with eyes closed

on the settee her head
to one side
granddad silent
like an undertaker

gazing at the table cloth
holding his cup
and saucer
sipping the tea

and you watched
great aunt breaking up
a shrimp pulling off
the head and tail

so I said to her
she said
there’s no smoke
without fire

and great uncle said
cross talking over her
there were these two sailors
and the girl with a lisp

and hush hush
gran said
not in front
of the young ones

and you wondered
what a girl did
with a lisp
and why the two sailors

knew her
and your old man
lit a cigarette
and there was a howl of laughter

as the two sailor
and girl with a lisp
caused guffaws
and even gran double over

and granddad said nothing
but sipped his tea
and you heard
the big grandfather clock

go tick tock tick tock
and the room smelt
of celery
and cigarette smoke

and still laughter
from the sailor’s joke.

alt


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