HOMe-hOUSE 36 – The Ghosts of 39


The Ghosts of 39

Never takes a rest does he
Can’t stop doing something
Wears you out just watching him
Mother would sit by the range
Which used to be over there
She’d have the endless mending
Which would slowly slide off her knee
Then she’d jump awake sew a bit more and drop off again

I never knew my mother

What’s he up to now

Cooking long yellowish things
Always drinking coffee
We had lots of potatoes
On payday a bit of meat
And bread we’d eat a couple of loaves for tea
Some days that’s all we had
He hasn’t got a table not a proper one
We had one which mother scrubbed every day

There were some benches

Didn’t you live here?

Here yes but not in this house
It was rough ground muddy
Lived in a tent
Father dug the cut then that tunnel
I shifted buckets of mud to huge carts
All day dawn ‘til dusk
So heavy it hurt all over
Then light went dark

On firing days the sky would be black with smoke

Smuts smuts mother would shout running out to get the washing in

It was much nicer when that woman lived here
With her daughter felt like a home
For years families lived here
Look at him all on his own
In and out all the time
Never stops and look at all this stuff
What does he need it for?
Never uses it or looks at it

We had nothing

We didn’t have much

I had a pair of boots
Far too big for me ‘til I grew into them
Mother stuffed newspaper in to make them fit
Father mended them lots of times
He’s got fourteen pairs of shoes
More in that cupboard
Sixteen pairs of trousers never seen a tie
And how many shirts can one man ever wear!

I used to get so cold

Always wet never seemed to get dry

Why does he sit so long at that box
Tapping on a typewriter thing
They had something like that in the office
At the potbank made lots of noise
May Parker worked it after she went to a college
Hours he spends there doing what
I really can’t work it out
Writes things down then tears them up I dunno

Can we get away from here?

Don’t think so

Maybe he’ll move away soon

And someone more interesting move in…

Tim Diggles 2019

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