On Saturday night a nice hot bath
And a dose of syrup of figs,
The polished shoes on the fender,
To go with our Sunday rigs.
Curling tongs in the gas ring,
Crimp and singe our hair,
McCooeys on the wireless,
Hot toast and an easy chair.
Off to school on a weekday,
Carrying our "piece and jam,"
Dreading the sight of the master,
The cruel cane in his hand.
The smell of peat fires burning,
Blown on an autumn breeze,
A sixpence baked in an apple tart,
And the crunch of the fallen leaves.
A sixpence for my pocket,
Sweets, or a poke, or chips,
Comic cuts, or the pictures,
Lemonade or a bag of crisps.
Neighbours at the garden fence,
"Says she, says I, says he."
Yapping dogs at the gables,
As we sit for a cup of tea.
Soda farls on the griddle,
Potato bread in the pan,
Sizzling eggs and bacon,
And a cup of tea in you han'.
Church bells on a Sunday,
Silent and still the day,
Save for the footfalls echoing,
As the faithful wend their way.
The fragrant smell of new-mown grass,
The primrose at our feet,
Haystacks in the meadow,
The cows come up the street.
Dark skies and the sound of thunder,
Fierce gales and threatened rain.
"Stay inside you can't go out.
Sit down and don't complain."
Bonfires flaming wildly,
"A penny for the guy."
Roast potatoes, crisp and burned,
Under a cloudy sky.
Tommy Scott behind the wheel,
Two speeds, dead slow and stop.
Delighted children pass him by,
A dash, a skip, a hop.
A pound and a half of sausages,
To cook for your daddy's supper,
And bring me a pot of strawberry jam,
Broad beans and a pound of butter.
Children ever chattering,
"Sit down and hold your tongue.
Don't you know, be seen not heard?"
It's galling to the young.
The clip, clip, clop of horse's hoofs,
It's the rag and bone man yelling,
"Any ould jars or any ould rags,
For buying, swapping, or selling!
"Wearing his leather apron and cape,
His face all smudged and black,
The enormous coalman enters,
Bearing the heavy sack.
It's closing time on Saturday night.
The wee drunk staggers out,
Full of blather and full of song,
In his pocket a bottle of stout.
Now the day is over,
So goes the old refrain.
Shadows of the days gone by,
Are all that now remain.
Joan Morrison 1991