grey – a childhood memory

WWP wants us to write about colour – this is right up my street, being a quilter, painter and would-be poet.  Normally I would be writing about shades of blue, but I looked outside and remembered…

GREY: a childhood memory

That was the year we all had a crush
On Miss Mayland.
A year of triumph and disaster
And we did keep our heads.

We swam a mile at the lido,
Mary, Kevin and me.
The weather was grey
The water too cold at fifty degrees.
We sang as we swam
Rose, Rose I love you
Skin starting to crinkle
A you’re adorable
Strokes slower and slower
I’d like to get you
On a slow boat to China
Counting the lengths
When can we stop?

That was the year that they kicked Churchill out.
Everything grey
Everything drear
Rationing still at its worst.
Ten million for the spectacles and eightpence for the meat
At Much Binding in the Marsh.
Everyone grim
Everyone grumpy.

That was the year we sang at the Festival
How beautiful they are, the lordly ones.
Precise, rehearsed and drilled
Heartless girls but we all did our best
So we won, we won, we won.
On the way home we sang on the bus.
Took off our hats and shouted.
What would they say at the Convent?
Took off our gloves, shock horror.
What would they say at the Convent?

At Church street we went in the chippy
How frightful, what would they say?
Fish and chips in the street
In our midnight blue uniforms
But no hats and no white gloves.  It was good.
We paraded our triumph, our pride and our sin,
Broke all the rules in loud celebration.
we won, we won, we won.


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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21 Responses to grey – a childhood memory

  1. Pingback: Used Motor Home | Tom Dunlap: To This Grade-school Cowboy, Baby Sitter Was A Movie Star | Prevost Motorhomes

  2. Doctor FTSE says:

    “Much Binding In The Marsh” . . . I tell he kids about it! An incomparable trio, Dicky Murdoch, Kenneth Horne and Sam Costa, and “Wartime Shortage” songs – like

    “Anniseed Balls are four for a penny
    and it isn’t very many,
    and they never do you any good.
    A caraway seed costs less than a shilling
    but it isn’t quite as filling
    as a bread-and-butter pud!’

    Harrrr . . . these young ‘uns, they don’t know how lucky they are.

    Your poem top-notch, BTW!


  3. derrick2 says:

    Can’t understand why I wasn’t here earlier, Viv, but I’m glad I came! Such a rich combination of images from a time when people were simply trying to LIVE!


  4. vivinfrance says:

    Thank you, Amy. Have you been following my war memoir – which I wrote a couple of years ago for my Grandson? I put up a bit every Tuesday – Sleeping Under the Stairs is the name of the first Chapter. A lot of day to day detail, but from a very small child’s viewpoint.


    • THanks, Viv. I have not read it yet, but will do some catching up and continue on Tuesdays.

      Have you thought about publishing this work? Personal viewpoints are so valuable; they stand as living testaments of the struggle.

      Peace, Amy


  5. Viv, you always give us something excellent. I felt as though I was there. Stunning. I read a lot about WWII, especially the books of Allan Furst (he deals mostly with espionage in Poland, France, etc) and A Man Called Intrepid, which gives more day-to-day detail about London during the bombings, etc.

    This was marvelous. Thanks, Viv. Peace, Amy


  6. Tilly Bud says:

    The colour in this is amazing, given its connotations. A wonderful poem; one of your best.


  7. Mary says:

    Viv, this is a strong ‘grey’ poem from what I know of World War II. Your words always resonate, as I know you were THERE among what you speak. I love reading your perspective.


    • vivinfrance says:

      Liv2write2day: Thank you.
      b- Isn’t Guernsey Potato Peel Pie a marvellous book? I hadn’t heard of
      Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet, so will hie myself to Amazon!
      Irene: Grey is the new multicoloured.
      Artswebshow: Thanks
      Bodhirose: Cheery is necessary!
      Mary: Thank you – yes, it’s amazing that memories so old are stronger than
      those of yesterday.


  8. Bodhirose says:

    Triumphant at breaking all the rules–hooray! I loved the cheeriness in spite of the “grey”!


  9. Artswebshow says:

    wow, this is a really cool poem.
    Great job


  10. Irene says:

    Viv, you took the gray out of gray! Your writing delights.


  11. b says:

    How I loved this!!! I have just finished reading The The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and am now reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Two takes on the same era.

    Thank you for the comment on Retire in Style Blog…I will feature it on a future blog. People around the world are looking for a good life for the rest of their lives. You are a wonderful example.



  12. Incredible sense of place and era. Your memories resonnate with mine, even though a few (not many) years and many miles separated us.


  13. 1sojournal says:

    I bow to your ability to take the color gray and make it sing loud and clear and even win the day. Wonderfully woven with a direct look back, but also the very real fact that even in gray days, children are vibrant with life and with living, bringing not only song but color into the world.



    • vivinfrance says:

      Thank you, Elizabeth – I think you understand my poetry better than I do, who wrote it! I was remembering the euphoria of that fabulous moment which contrasted to strongly with those very grey times in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s.


  14. pamela says:

    Viv this is an astonishing poem!
    Nicely done.


  15. Mrs.Trellis says:

    The anon Jag poem . . . Jinksy will explain(I hope!). Ada is removing all comments. Will post the poem again
    on Friday 1st and allow comments


  16. Diane T says:

    What an astonishing poem! A lot of history in this poem and you WON! Amazing!


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