Memories of the Fifties

Eggshell and Wedgwood Blue were just two
Of the range on the colour cards Dulux
Tailored to our taste in the fifties,
Brentford nylons, Formica table tops and
Fablon shelf-covering in original oak or
Spruce under neon tubes and Dayglo shades.

Wartime brown and green went out, along with
The Yorkist Range, the wire-mesh food safe
In the cellar, the scrubbed board bath lid
And marbled glass bowl over the light bulb
With its hidden hoard of dead flies and
Rusting three-tier chain.

We moved to the new estate, Airey semis
With their pebble-dash prefabricated slats,
Built-in kitchen units and made-to-measure gardens.
Every Saturday I went back to the streets,
Dinner at Auntie Nellie's, Yorkies, mash and gravy,
Then the matinee at the Princess with Margaret,
The queen of my ten-year old heart.

Everybody was on the move, half the neighbours
To the new estates or death, newcomers with
Rough tongues from over the bridge slum clearance.
A drive-in Readymix cement works bruised the Hollow:
Ellerby Lane School closed, St. Hilda's bulldozed.
The trams stopped for good after the Coronation Special
In purple and gold toured the city's tracks and
The red-white and blue on the cake at the street party
Crumbled to dust and the river-bank rats fed on it
Like Miss Haversham's wedding feast all over again.

The cobbled hill past the Mansions led nowhere,
The buses ran empty, then the route closed.
I returned again and again in friends' cars,
Now alone, on foot, again and again.