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Poetry Pleases: Air Raid

Betty McKay's poem conjures up the frightening and hilarious days of wartime as seen through they eyes of a child.

'Click Clack! Click Clack!' Mr. Hargreaves goes his way.
Mother calls him 'Cloggie Dick - Wake the dead he would.'
But she laughs as she says it. 'Lark's-legs' - She's our neighbour,
Mrs. Jackson, wobbling along on three-inch heels.
'Poor Fat Anna' at the Co-op; her real name is Theodora.
Funny names for things and people that embarrass me.

'Wailing Winnie', that's the siren. When she howls she's telling me
Jerry's on his way to get us.
When at home down I go beneath the table,
Me and Garry - that's our dog - hide away till it's all over.
Lights off listening to the wireless. Childrens' Hour with Uncle Mac,
Music Hall, Paul Temple and The Man in Black.

At the Brownies Winnie wails. 'Quickly now,' Arkela cries,
'To the crypt you Sprites and Fairies, Elves and Pixies,
Straight down those steps and get inside.'
In candlelight singing favourites - It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow.
The curate sang Alphonso the toreador, the Spaniard who blighted my life,
Tra-la-la! Irene and I laughed till we cried.

When the all-clear sounds we leave. Hurrying off into the night.
'Go straight home and no meandering.' I turn left instead of right.
Church Street doesn't look the same. Two fire-engines clanging by.
Houses bombed and rubble lying in the place where once they'd been.
Outside Irene's home a policeman stands and women weep.
I see a stranger hug Irene. Then I turn and run for home.


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