A Life’s Parallels

Never on this side of the grave again.
Christina Rossetti

Synthetic coconut shies.
Whiskers absurdly long.

Give the show away.
Everything tawdry and shoddy.

Was it always so?
Were they as cheap looking
in one’s youth when one loved it all?

Does one get fastidious as one grows
older and the fair
always was rowdy
and dirty
and unappealing?

As we came away,
all Himself said was:
“Our poor park,
how untidy it is.”

Diary of a Sheffield housewife, August 1942. Diarist 5447 in the Mass Observation Project. Submitted by B.T. Joy.


They are likely to have seen a world
much more alive than ours,
where every tree or hill may have had
the Spirit
or been associated with past times
or mythical stories,
where the soul of a man might inhabit
a dog after his death.
They would have known few other people
and few things they called their own.
But then
it’s worth remembering
the Scottish winters spent without houses,
the dangers of travelling
between islands in primitive boats.

Notes taken by a family member during final year of studying Archaeology at Glasgow University, 2012. Submitted by B.T. Joy.