homage to oliver bernard

You were no figment of my imagination.

You arrived, Mary Poppins-like, in our sleepy Suffolk school.

We were still in the days of the eleven plus,

‘nobody passes or fails’ but are ‘selected’ for the grammar or secondary mod.

(We knew what was ‘failed’.)

The designation ‘grammar’ a matter for trades description;

few believed that girls needed educating, merely segregating.

Our clutch of O levels adequate dowry for partners from Young Farmers (or if lucky, Young Conservatives).

We few remained, Oliver-like, asking for more,

sixteen year old blue stockings, our fate paraded before us.

You were exotic amongst these dessicated spinsters.

Your distracted dishevelment  unmitigated by flowing gown,

you enchanted not by looks but by the oldest courtship

reading to us.

Did they know we sat, absorbed, hypnotised

by The Catcher in the Rye?

 

Oliver Bernard 1925 – 2013

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