Things Not What They Used To Be

by Paul Blaney

Nostalgists, rose-tinted-
Spectacled golden-agers
Should be packed aboard
A grimy, smoky, dusty,
Stuffy, stop-start British
Rail train — the whole lot of them,
One-way tickets, third-class—
And sent for a long Easter holiday
Weekend at the English seaside
Circa 1956.

With Bob’s your uncle and
Donkeys in straw hats
Paddling men in vests and
Knotted handkerchiefs
Fancy a wet, Bert?
Wives in bottle-green frocks
Drinking port and lemon
In nicotined lounge bars with
Tuneless pianos and misty-
Eyed memories of the Blitz.

With dancing on the pier to ‘Sid Simmons
And his Swingers,’ and tearooms with doilies,
No workboots, children or language!
Buttoned-up, hedge-trimmed,
Net-curtained guesthouses serving
Lumpy porridge, custard, gravy,
Beds, with outdoor plumbing and
Rooms reserved for respectable
Clientele on best behaviour.

Though it beats me how or
Where you might have contrived
To indulge any other kind, what
With sod all to do after closing time
(And little enough before)
Save the wireless or black-
And-white telly, squeaky-
Springed how’s your father?
And Sunday still stretching before you,
Like a long, empty corridor.

All of which was quite alright
Back then, no doubt, if
You’d never known
Or dreamed of anything

  1. #1 by Catherone on November 10, 2011 - 8:07 am

    Gorgeous! I could smell this and see the cottony light.

  2. #2 by John Ritchie on November 10, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    Figs ain’t what they used ter be, fank Gawd! It is so much better now, than it was then.

    Thanks, Paul, I enjoyed that visit into one of my previous lives.



  3. #3 by Simon Pitman on November 10, 2011 - 3:00 pm

    Knees up Mother Brown and all that guff… fab piece, the Peebster. Very evocative of all things the good old times that never really were.

    Keep up the good work, and other such hackneyed phrases.


    P.S. At least I managed to read YOUR poem this time.

  4. #4 by Sarah Nesbit on November 10, 2011 - 3:07 pm

    Paul great piece. so true. Glad to read some of your writing again.

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