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U3A Writing: The Well: 7 The Landlady

Paddy Webb continues her account in verse of the life of her great grandfather John Charles Ayling, the first of three generations of elder sons of that name.

This story, set between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Centuries, is based on the recollections of Paddy’s grandmother.

In today’s episode young John, down and out in London, finds a landlady with a heart.

Will you look at the boy!
What's he up to? No, leave him for now, no harm done.
Reckon he's hungry, see how he seized that crust.
Let him work if he will, then give him the scraps;
The dog's got more than enough.
Throw him out
And box his ears if he don't behave.

Get me another jug of ale up quick and don't
Put water in this time.
Him in the frock coat Is trouble if ever I saw.
This way sir, if you please.
A private room rather than the bar perhaps?

Eh, what a day, my poor feet.
Bring me a drop of gin George and then make up the fire in the parlour. What's A woman to do, running a place like this on her own?
Head or heels,
The World Turned Upside Down
Is the right name for sure.

Now Lad, come here.
What you been doing? Run away
Have you? Hungry? What's that? You're working
To earn some food! Not hungry then? Well, I like spirit.
Put me cup there, George, and a drop of warm water.
You go on collecting the pots, sweep up, clear the tables
You can have what's left in the kitchen, the scraps,
When we close. You sleeping rough? What, Fat Annie?
We want no truck with Flat Iron Square.
You been thieving for her? All right then, but
You'll get the pox or worse if you stay there.

Don't do to tangle with Fat Annie. You sleep in the stable,
Its cleaner and no rats. There's an empty stall at the end.
I saw you moving Old Joe. Took him home did you?
You know how to deal with a drunk, that's for sure.
Had some practice, your Dad like a drink? There's no denying
I'm short handed. If you're still here Saturday, maybe
There's a job, three pence a week and your meals. You can start
By carrying those coals, then put down more sawdust.

George, get that girl out of here, this is a respectable house.
Do you know what he just bought me? Violets!
Look, just like I was a lady. Smell them. Feel how
Cool they are to the skin, one white one nestling in the middle.
Fancy me having flowers bought me, me, at my age.
Look Ma, he said, I've bought these for you!
Happy Christmas, he said, giving me a peck, like
I was his Mum. I give him a flannel shirt; my man
Don't leave his bed these days, one of his but it does
With the sleeves turned up. Jack 'll grow into it,

Plenty of wear yet.
Found some shoes that fit nicely, With rags in.
Don't like him barefoot.
Eh! His Mum Must miss him.
Like having him around, I do.

**

To read earlier sections of this poem please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=paddy+webb

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