Happy Anniversary

Mum and Dad’s wedding day 1941

Guy Fawkes Night, 80 years ago. Dad born 1905. Mum born 1911.

With the passing years they become more and mysterious to me. The past is another country. You can’t go back there.


Startled by parents

the things about them that they never hid, 

just left quietly unsaid.


There was one who’d filleted a python,

and who launched a stuffed crocodile

on a Norfolk mere one summer’s night.


These are the stories we go on telling,

that gather detail, year on year.

Turn mythic.


Not in the same world as the one

in which my mother learned

to drive a car.


Not in the one where someone told me 

my father liked a bet, followed the form,

was familiar with racetracks.


I can’t imagine them at all,

or, if I did, I’d get them wrong,

my mother young


and long before me, with a chap

whose name I never knew;

white shoes, maybe,


a Morris with a running board;

my mother who learned 

to double de-clutch,


to manage sparks and chokes,

to rattle with insousiance

down country lanes


in a velours hat that never once

blew off, laughing with a man

I cannot picture.


My dad at Aintree, or Pontefract,

a jacket with a nipped-in waist,

a tie pin, natty trilby;


binoculars, fivers in a roll,

an eye for a winner,

an eye out for spivs.


They were glamorous,

louche and chancy

and I never knew them at all .


[By which I mean there is so much I never knew, and wish I did. I miss them.]

One thought on “Happy Anniversary

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