N - In Service.

When Nanna went into service
at fourteen years of age;
she went to Barratt's 'the shoe people'
who resided in St Ives.
A uniform had to be purchased
two of everything folded and neat
and off she went with her suitcase
and a pair of new boots on her feet.
Then, she purchased a ticket
for the steam train to the next town
and tearfully waved through the window;
her parents agreed 'she's full grown'.

To Mrs Jones:
'My Kate's gone into service
she went two days ago,
hired only recently
we're very proud you know.'

Master and Madam Barratt were the owners
of an impressive estate: Then -
wide eyed taken around it,
instructions and duties to relate;
Madam liked beds made to perfection
not a fold or a crease in sight,
shown the correct way to make them:
Beds had to be made 'just right'.
There really was so much to remember
everything so different from home
that Kate began to worry
and to wish she'd never come.

To Mrs Smith:
'My Kate's gone into service
I expect she'll be alright -
told her to keep herself tidy
and not to fear the night! '

Kate thought it over and over
as the mornings tasks commenced:
She didn't 'quite like the Lady',
and didn't think much to the food.
There was a rotten smell in the larder
as game was hung overnight: to be
prepared for a fancy dress soirée
taking place on the following day.
Exhausted, up in the attic
far away from her mother's care
with no-one to come and kiss goodnight
how she wished she wasn't there!

And after... to Mrs Green
'My Kate's gone into service
I have no news at all
yes, we really miss her
hope she does as she's told! '

Rising at four in the morning
after breakfast with so much to do,
one task arrived after another
finally lunchtime ensued.
At her post, ready and waiting
as the Ladies and Gents arrived
all colorful costumes and tissue
a wonderful view to behold:
There was Bo-Peep, Godiva and Ape-man
surprised, and all so extreme,
Kate longed for what was 'dead normal'
her brothers, her mum and her dad.

Then to Mrs Day:
'My Kate's gone into service
I wonder how she's got on?
Remembered to answer politely
and been made real welcome... '

It was then that Kate decided,
like a butterfly winging its way;
thought no-one would miss her
how could she ever explain?
Serving guests and the family
then without word and turning to go:
Not a thought for the consequences
but what was happening at home.
Putting hat and coat on
she disappeared out of sight,
the party already in 'full swing'
left behind a suitcase shut tight!

And finally to Mrs Jones:
'Whose that now in the distance?
Recognition made her groan...
'It can't be her 'cause she's away -
JUST WAIT 'TILL I GET YOU 'OME! '

For Lydia and Demelza

France 2003

by Gillian.E. Shaw

Comments (2)

Many people have trouble telling a good story in rhyme...and you worked in dialect as well. Good job, and very funny. Raynette
Very funny. I like this one. Well done Hugs Jan