Sunday, 26 July 2015

Agnes Ellen Turner

Dear Reader,

I thought this week I would present you with a poem about my nanny.  My parents were of the generation and class that thought it was quite normal not to look after their children during childhood, and sometimes beyond, but to hire someone else to do it, namely a nanny.  My father, an actor was often away and my mother was busy with her social life, so nanny was, in effect, my mother and I thought of her as such, and still do.  Nanny lived in a two up and two down in the backstreets of the city of Canterbury until she started work at the age of fourteen as a nursery maid in an aristocratic family.  She never married since all single young men she knew were killed  in the First World
War. Harry, the young man she was engaged to, was certainly one of them.

Agnes Ellen Turner

who wore her hair
in a long silver plait
wound round her head

who always had a brooch
on her sensible floral dress
worn with shiny black lace-up shoes

who as a child slept
five in a bed with
her brothers and sisters
head to toe

who had a fiance, Henry
who waved her goodbye
but didn't come home

who wore white face powder
with no other adornments
and smelt of lavender water

who wrote to me at boarding school
sent me Georgetter Heyer novels
wrapped in brown paper

who watched "Songs of Praise"
and listened to Dick Barton
a bottle of Guiness at her side

who three weeks before my wedding
knitted a woolly hat to wear
but she didn't make it
her breath ran out

nanny, who loved me
A musing for today.

A lesson I have learnt this week is not, at any cost, to eat a sandwich sitting in a deck chair on the beach when I go on holiday to Sidmouth next month.  If I do an aggressive seagull may swoop on the sandwich or perhaps peck at my head leaving blood running down my cheeks, or worse.  I did see too that a seagull had killed a small dog and attacked a tortoise and, if I was running the world, I would find some way to cull these dangerous birds.  There are many poems and books depicting seagulls as romantic figures but obviously this is not, in truth, the case.

Best wishes, Patricia

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