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The Poetry Place

Before She Was Theirs

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16
I've moved on. I'm looking at the second verse and remembering the photo of her on the prom.
I used charabanc because it's the word my dad used - and it has an old-fashioned ring to it.
 
Before she was theirs, she takes the train
Or charabanc to Southend
Where the pier is still the place to go
And on the promenade, smiles good-naturedly
At photographers, musicians
And a pair of likely lads
One of whom she knows
And the other who will become their dad.
 
This verse uses the present tense and I think it works better so I may revise the first part and put it in the present tense too. But I can do that at any stage. I'm fairly happy with what I've got now.


Before She Was Theirs

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16
I've made those changes -

Before she was theirs, she is stood, half child
Behind the counter in Robinsons department store
The best East End had to offer.
She liked the soft stuff best:
Sorted stocking, socks and ties
Made customers feel comfortable
And, sale made, zinged the hard earned shillings
On the wire to the cashier in her glass case.

Not happy with glass case. May go back to cage. Also, for some reason, the rhythm of the line seems to need one syllable there not two. I don't quite know why - it's just a question of sound...



Before She Was Theirs

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16
I want to see how the references to the original poem works before I go any further -
 
Before she was theirs, she is poised, half child
Behind the counter in Robinsons department store
The best that Stratford had to offer.
She liked the soft stuff best:
Sorted stocking, ties and
Made customers feel comfortable
And, sale made, zinged the hard earned shillings
On the wire to the cashier in her cage.
 
There are several words I’m not sure about:  poised is wrong. I want the image of a really young person and I’ll have to think more.   Stratford suggests Stratford on Avon and this is Stratford in the East End of London. I don’t yet now how to make that clear.  I can see her arranging stock neatly. In fact I’ll use arranged instead of sorted.  The cashier was in a central area but is cage the right word. It was more like a glass case.
 


Before She Was Theirs

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

Friday, 9 November 2007 15:06:16

I’ve been thinking about Before You Were Mine – I want to write a version of my own , based on Carol Ann Duffy’s idea but its taken me a while to decide how to tackle it. I’ve decided to write it from the point of view of my two older sisters and so the title will be Before She Was Theirs. I’ve also decided to keep it third person rather than writing in my sisters’ voices. It makes it more distinct from the original title too.

In fact I feel I know more about my mother’s life before the girls were born than I do about her life between them and me (9-11 years) strangely.  I have a couple of strong images. One is from her memories and that’s to do with working in a big department store. She started there aged 14, with her twin sister, Doris.  Doris died of TB about 4 or 5 years later.  I don’t know whether to mention that or not.

Behind the counter, arranging gloves
Sorting stockings, ties and
Making customers feel comfortable
And, sale made, zinging hard earned shillings on the wire
To the cashier in her cage

The other image is from photos and from talking to her – and that’s about visiting the seaside – mainly Southend and meeting boys, one of whom ended up being my dad.

On the charabanc to Southend
Where the pier is still the place to go
And on the promenade, photographers, musicians
And a pair of likely lads

The other likely lad was my dad’s brother, John.



Making Duffy Your Own

Thursday, 1 November 2007 10:25:56

Thursday, 1 November 2007 10:25:56
A nice response from a teacher who asked students to use the approach I took with 'Before You Were Mine' and write from one of their parent's point of view.  An example can be found in the Verse Surgery - not that it needed any!    Great stuff.


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