They chose to live in Sidcup

I often get inspiration on the tube. I look at the people around me and imagine their loves and lives.

This poem was written after visiting a colleague’s home in Sidcup, Kent. Afterwards, someone said, “I wonder why they chose to live in Sidcup.”

Going home on the tube I sat opposite a middle aged couple, tried to imagine their life together and wrote this:

They chose to live in Sidcup

They chose to live in Sidcup

Semi-detached – even in bed

They chose the rhythm method

and bred two bilious children

A well spaced boy and girl

After church on Sundays

they chose to watch

the Eamonn Andrews Show

from the pseudo leather sofa

where they nearly

conceived a third child

out of boredom

They chose to plant

rose bushes in the garden

Got more pleasure from the flower

than they did the marital bed

They chose to drink Nescafe

but roasted coffee beans

under the grill

to deceive the Women’s Guild

Tuesday coffee mornings

They chose to die in bed

Staking their claim

to a plot side by side

in the local cemetery

A birthday present to each other

But death chose them

one Monday morning

when their family size Sedan

with the tiger in its tank

and vote Tory on the windscreen

wrapped itself around

the shared drive lamp post

they had always meant to move

They chose to go to heaven.

Like  teenagers everywhere, I’d look at my parents and wonder why they stayed together. The next poem is a combination of my thoughts on my parents, a random couple I saw sitting on the tube and a young girl’s powerful imagination.

Thirty years ago

Thirty years ago

he liked her in red

so she wore it at their wedding

causing relatives to stare

and talk in shocked whispers.

He carried over the threshold

a carnation from the bouquet

in his teeth.

Thirty years ago

someone called her a brazen hussy

for wearing too much make-up

at a funeral.

Thirty years ago

he was given a black eye

by a black shirt

for distributing

peace pamphlets

at a fascist meeting.

Thirty years ago

they didn’t want any children

They were going to travel the world

Ride a camel in the Sahara

Race beetles in Barcelona

Hitch to Hong Kong

Sleep under the Seine in Paris.

Thirty years ago

they weren’t going to be

like their parents.

Thirty years ago

his teeth were his own

and she never coloured her hair.

Today, thirty years later

like a couple of bookends

they sit in silence

she, with her knitting

and he, watching

the football on the TV

as if his life depended

on the game.

Thirty years later

her face is pinched and drawn

the lips turned down.

Thirty years later

their childhood friends

are married

dead and dying

And the past is dead too

as far as they’re concerned.

For thirty years

they lived for their children

And now there’s nothing

to keep them together.

Thirty years later

they never did get to Paris.

And he wouldn’t remember

he once liked her in red.



© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems

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