I’m in service at the Big House

Photo by Mike Smith on Unsplash

I’m in service at the Big House
Left school when just fourteen
Started as a scullery maid –
Left mam -my crowded home
Timid, shy, first time away,
Prayed Cook would not be mean.
My bed is in the attic
At least I now don’t share
No sleepless nights for tired me
Run ragged everywhere.
Raking embers, fetching coal
“Set fires, black those  grates”
A never ending long long list
Up by six for long, long days.

“Followers are not allowed”
The housekeeper decreed
I wait for my half day to come
Meet James at Suffield Leas
When we are wed, a happy day,
One iron vow I’ll keep
Above all else no Bairn of mine
Will bow and scrape and weep.
No washing pots ‘til midnight
– Raw hands and aching feet
I know the effort, hard, hard work
To make those nine course meals
Parties where we, half asleep,
Willed them to leave the room.

I’m married now, work just as hard
As I did at that Big House
The difference now I’m in MY house
No entrees, amuse Bouche
It’s rabbit stew and shepherds pie
We’re happy with plain food.

When you see programmes
Telling you how good the old ways were
Don’t let yourselves be fooled –
Those olden days were good for some
But not for country girls.

This for my mother who was clever and artistic but as the youngest of seven was given no choice but to go “into service” at 14. I can remember vividly how tight money was, she was ashamed that essentials were on “tick” until Saturday and I grew up worrying about how much the bill would be.

White privilege is a fallacy, if only all the freeloading benefit takers were half as hard working as my parents and the parents of many posters on here then today’s U.K. would be so different.

© Heavy Weather 2024