Aunty Nell


Aunty Nell got pregnant at twenty five years old
her father a rich Irish hauler in Bootle
ranted and raved
not only had she conceived out of wedlock
but done so to a married man
thirty years her senior.

Never mind how he come home from war after three years
and his wife presented him with a six month old daughter,
divorce didn’t happen in those days,
nor did Protestant marry Catholic.

Poor Nell disowned by her family,
found her way to a poor house for pregnant women,
and polished lead grates for the greats of Liverpool,
till she went into confinement and gave birth alone,
in a hospital for the destitute near Warrington.

Shunned, she managed to work as a chiropodist
and her man came to live with her in a dingy flat
in Sefton park.
The doctor, when called to tend her baby,
was dismayed to find they lived in a room
with only a bed and wooden packing crates
for furniture.

Times were not hard, they were terrible and
Nell on her feet, tended feet all over the city
just to keep the family together
but after a while she saved enough to rent a small house,
her front room had few patients
more full of old men too cold to afford their own fire.

Fighting deprivation and male domination
she eventually managed to buy her house,
then another property and settle her son
into a good education,
whilst supporting her husband now too old to work.
Then of course her sisters came back,
and she became a local success, a source of
guidance, helping the needy,
taking clean sheets to those who had given birth,
loved by all around her.

Aunty Nell is still with us
so I post this piece on her behalf
for any single mums, to say
that was sixty years ago,
cheer up, thank God,
its not so bad today.

By Don McCallister