Florence's Tale

Julia was my mother, and Michael was my dad,
One a ‘prodie’, one a catholic. Folks thought that was bad.
In Tuebrook a home they made ‘mongst narrow streets and entries.
There to raise their family, not far from local gentries.
My father had a workshop, where he made Lord Derby’s boots,
I fetched him pitchers full of ale to quell the dust and soots.

My mother sheltered orphans and for this her growing brood,
She cut the sugar from our diet, to cut the cost of food.
A basket full of bread I’d have, whenever father bid,
To deliver to the manor house, as I so often did.
Seeing how the rich folk lived within their country ‘seat’,
Why then was our bathhouse at the corner of the street?

My teachers in their caps and gowns were stricter than the rest,
But glad I was - came second in the civil service test.
The Liver Building’s where I worked, at big high desk, and read
Allowances - Married Women, watching ferries from Birkenhead,
I’d work out who’d be getting what and which ones were the ‘No’s.
Then I’d walk the miles back home … the tram fare spent on clothes!

A ship, the Conway, moored, she was, upon the Mersey flow,
A centre for instruction, from whence I learned to row.
My Mother disapproved at once and verbally forbade me,
Shrilling ‘It’s not a pastime which befits a gentile lady.’
My grandad took me to a show; dancing was Pavlova.
His status took us both backstage, performance now was over.
She learned that I was not so well and chatted there, quite pally,
Recommending excersise, instead of learning ballet.

Then I met and married Jack, plumbing was his trade.
The Anglican cathedral was then just being made.
He put upon the roof the lead, which saved it from the rain,
And then worked on the piping which allows the roof to drain.
Many folk have travelled in the lift or up the stair,
To marvel at the view they got, that from the top is there.
I wonder now if it is known, or if the folk who came
Saw the little corner, where my husband wrote his name.

(Early Ninteen Hundreds)

By Beth Springer