OLDHAM BEFORE EUROPE
Bedtime thoughts of a school boy aged eight and a half in 1933
"Come on you," my Dad would say
And up the wooden hill to Bedford I would go,
At the end of a boyhood tiring day,
Too sleep, to dream, to hope and to know.
To know that under the blankets safe
Nobody could get me in my den,
I can snuggle in my own cocoon
Listening to the Sunbeam Talbot's wheels
Scrunching into the garage across the road.
Its headlights sweeping across the ceiling
Like the lighthouse beams at New Brighton
Saving sailors lives and mother's pain.
Snuggle down, safe from all the bullies at St Pats
And the Prodds's at St Thomas's.
Why is Dennis Norton stronger than me?
Why does God let him hit me?
He could turn him into a pillar of salt;
Safe with the memory of incense swung
And Sister Mary Augustus who I love to little pieces,
She is gentle and kind, and knows things
I think she talks with God a lot.
Tony Townsend lives in a pub, and so does Jimmy Knott
They say they can drink lemonade all day,
I think that's a swank pot thing to say
Nobody could be that lucky.
Next Saturday I'll go hiking with John Barber
He'll never be a bully,
We'll go to ChewValley and build a dam
Like little beavers from St Pats.
My big brothers say's I'm a guttersnipe
He said that on Napier Street.
I think, and this is a very big secret,
That Gladys Cooney is pretty and very clean
But Margaret Nichols has softer eyes.
I wonder if she would hit me if I tried to kiss her?
I wish I wasn't so shy.
I wonder what I will be when I grow up,
Miss Glynn say's I'm the best at writing
What does 'go far' mean?
Perhaps I'll go to China,
I'll never be the King anyway because I'm just ordinary.
I expect that Princess Lillibet has a clean frock each day,
And she'll never get dirty playing out.
Just look at the state of you,
It's funny really,
I know her, everybody does
But she'll never know me.
I feel frightened and on my own
When Dad hit's me with the flex,
I want to love him really
But he never holds my hand
Only once when I had that tooth out at Mr Brooks.
My Mother knows magic words like "Never mind love,"
Which seem to make the pain nearly go away?
Her bosom is warm and soothing
And she makes the best fruit cake in the world.
Better than Sister Angeleque I think
Nun's can't have cake 'cos they've taken vows.
We can go to heaven if we eat cake
But nun's can't unless the Pope Says so
Because that's God speaking.
What would happen if all the world died
And their was only me left?
I could eat all the biscuits in Bentleys
And turn the bacon slicer in Bennets as long as I wanted.
I could have two Rolls Royce's like my Dad's boss
And live in Buckingham Palace
And sleep in Lillibets bed.
I expect she has sheets on her bed
Like the Infirmary when I had my tonsils out.
I think blankets are good because they tickle your knee caps
And they're warm and smell of skin.
Jimmy Knott say's they have eiderdowns in their house,
I told my Mother and she said
Hansom is as hansom does
Jimmy Knot's mother gave me 3d. once,
That's like taking six jam jars back.
I must forget that wicked word that Herbert Richards said
Or I'll have to go to confession
Father Taylor is the strictest, so I go to Farther Powell.
I wonder how many Hail Mary's I could get
For having rude thoughts about Princess Lillebet?
Hundreds and hundreds,
And go to prison if the King found out.
They could cut out my tongue like they did in the Bible.
Charlie McDowell wrote bum on the wall today
I wonder why people don't laugh in the rain?
Only if the sun shines or when they're drinking beer
I think God magic's the sun
Because it makes trees and flowers grow
And makes all the birds sing like billy-oh
Even our house smells different in the sun
Wasps come in as well.
I think wasps should be prosecuted like trespassers.
If the man in the moon is a Catholic
How does he get to church?
The 'A' bus only goes to Greenacres.
I expect he's a Protestant,
They don't go every Sunday like us.
Perhaps something nice will happen today
My eyes are pricking a bit
So I think I'll go to sleep.
Tara God, Tara John, Tara Smut.
Rtn Ray Whitehead O B E