During and after the war coal was brought in sacks to our house on a horse-drawn wagon. I had no interest in this.
Men avalanched the coal into our cellar through a small hatch on the side of the house. My mother locked up at 11 pm and I had no key. But I was slender enough to slide through the coal hatch.
Clothing impregnated with coal dust was something I could live with.
Later, as a drinker, I spurned the coal hatch, shinned up the external fall pipe, stood on the horizontal access pipe to the loo, fiddled open the little window, and slid in head first. The tricky bit was avoiding entering the loo head first.
Had the fall pipe pulled away from the house wall I would have fallen twelve feet, broken my back on the cellar steps hand-rail, then continued to fall ten more feet down the steps. At the time I lacked imagination and now regard this as a blessing.
Later, I bought a key.
See what you think:
It's in Bolton Hall, and the clock strikes One,
And the roast beef's brown and the boil'd meat's done,
And the barbecu'd suckling pig's crisp'd to a turn,
And the pancakes are fried, and beginning to burn;
The fat stubble-goose swims in gravy and juice,
With the mustard and apple-sauce ready for use;
Reasons why: Poetically unambitious but enhanced by impeccable ten-syllable-line scansion (read it aloud). The dishes are incorporated without need for word or phrase distortion. The poem practices simple virtues and the rhythm drives our salivary anticipation. This is a meal you could sit down to now – provided you weren’t vegetarian.
R.H.Barham, (1788 – 1845)
NOTE: Lucas, Joe Hyam's brother, has written a poem commemorating the lives of Joe and Heidi, his partner. Read it on http://pomesonpoets.blogspot.co.uk/ even if they are unknown to you.