Sunday, 27 November 2016

When my Dad came home




Dear Reader,
                                                                                William Trevor, CBE

The Ballroom of Romance


                                                                      A More Romantic Ballroom

I read with great sadness about the recent death of my old friend William Trevor, the writer of novels and short stories.  His short stories have been likened to those of both Chekhov and Maupassant, with his themes being lost opportunity, self-deception, alienation, and regret.  He once said he was "interested in the sadness of fate, in the things that just happen to people".  I think his most well-known short story was "The Ballroom of Romance", certainly one I have read and re-read and really enjoyed.  It is set in rural Ireland in the 1950s.  The girl Bridie has been attending the local dance hall for years hoping to find a good husband who could help her on her family's farm.  But now, surrounded by younger and prettier women at these weekly dances, she realizes that all the good men of her generation have either emigrated or have got married, and her only remaining hope for marriage would be with the alcoholic and undesirable, uncouth Bowser Egan.  We don't know what choice she makes, but if it were I a single life, however hard, would be mine.

                                                                          *

When my Dad came home

he nodded off
in the old armchair,
any time,
forgot everything,
could name no names.

Tobacco smoke from woodbines
filled the house,
he drank malt whisky,
came home unsteadily from the pub.

He talked of cricket, he whistled
and hummed old country and western songs,
rocked in the rocking chair
and potted up red geraniums.

He ate junket and white fish
had headaches,
and he wept sometimes.

But we were good friends, my Dad and I,
night times he told me stories,
and tucked me into bed.
I never asked him about the war,
and he never said.

                                                                                  *

Very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your poem about 'my dad' made me catch my breath, as your poems so often do. It wasn't that 'my dad' was so like my own but rather that all of us, at least of my generation and older, would see something of our fathers in this wonderful poem. It captures that specific time, place and feeling of another, simpler age.
And I have already ordered a William Trevor book of short stories so I can read him as I never have. xx