Saturday, 7 August 2010

Summer stories

Just a week left of the school summer holidays here...and this week's Poetry Bus prompt from Jeanne Iris (see here for details) concerns summer subjects too.

Once my Dad died in 1973, family holidays for us (for the rest of that decade more or less) meant Mum, two older brothers and me – into a car and off somewhere within England (usually somewhere with water – both brothers liked boats and action). I only had one friend who went abroad regularly at this point (her parents had a shop, they liked sunshine, they flew off to Spain a lot) but most of us in the UK had this kind of closer-to-home holiday (if we were lucky) and no-one really expected anything else (now some people seem to expect a fantastic globetrotting holiday several times a year - how exactly did that happen?). I'm not really sure what I did for most of these '70s vacations... lots of reading, some dreaming, lots of wandering about, I suppose (some things don't change...). Here's me on a boat on the Norfolk Broads (I think) in something like 1977. I guess everyone else was doing all the hard work (what was that about things not changing..?).

And here's my poem for this week (audio version here - because I love you...):

England, nineteen seventy something

Every summer we went somewhere
On wheels from British Leyland
Morris, Maxi or Marina
Home-built chariot of choice

Our destination Scarborough
Lake District, Suffolk, Cornwall
Places with more water
Places with some space

In the back of a Maxi
Seats can be so slippery
Hot vinyl, slowish motor
Hot summer, tempers too

Brothers can be bearish
Kicking them so crucial
Sisters can be sat upon
They sat on me (they tried)

Some roads seemed long forever
Others more like upright
The radio kept blethering
A King has died, elsewhere

To caravan, to chalet
To hotel of a heartbreak
The summers gone, each followed on
So long ago, so long

RF 2010



Liz said...

Nice one, Rachel and the photo too, coolness!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I think in some ways I have never left the '70s!. Would still wear cheesecloth and denim, happily. And I've been quite disturbed the recent '80s fashion comebacks... never liked any of that in the first place.
I'm something like 10 years old in that photo. No date on it and I didn't keep diaries then so not 100% sure of the year.

Unknown said...

What a memory I so remeber those holidays the call the staycations now don't they!
"Brothers can be bearish
Kicking them so crucial
Sisters can be sat upon
They sat on me (they tried)" this brought back realy memories I only had one brother but he was big and very, much older and yes he sat on me!
Really enjoyed this piece

Rachel Fox said...

It was the brother 4 years older than me who I remember kicking most (and him kicking me!). We get on very well now... mind you he does live halfway round the world.

Dr. Jeanne Iris said...

This is lovely, Rachel. I love the way you've written the title and that final stanza! It leads the reader into her/his own memory...

Recently, I read some research proving sisters are a significant benefit to a sibling's life, whether the sibling is male or female. (We always knew that though, didn't we?)

Jim Murdoch said...

There are certain things that unify people: the TV programmes we used to watch as kids (and how they're so much better than those on offer now), the sweets you can't get any more and car trips with your family. Strange, when I read the title and the first line I thought you were going to make more of the 'some' - we went somewhere, did something, met someone. You get the idea.

The Bug said...

We were a camping family - camped at Nashville, camped at Disney World, camped in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm pretty sure my dad was just cheap :) My brother & I loved to pick on each other - so your poem definitely brought back memories. My favorite part is that they TRIED to sit on you. That right there describes sibling rivalry quite succinctly!

Rachel Fenton said...


You look very exceedingly groovy-tastic in your pic.

I'm with you on the eighties revulsion - yuck - though it was such a near miss with the Georgian/victorian fashions it was trying to re-invent...could have nbeen done so much better....yeah, well....

I like the rolling along with the car window down feel to this poem. It'll resonate with so many people.
I remember the smell of manure the most and my brother calling out "sniff up - we're nearly there now"!

Argent said...

Oh wow, cheesecloths and endless car journeys! We had hols like this when I was a kid. Six people squashed into a car - no rear seat belt or anything then. Nicely evoked!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, it's not often I'm the fashion correspondent but cheesecloth and denim was sooooooo my peak. That outfit had a matching denim waistcoat too (all bought in somewhere with 'boutique' on the sign outside...possibly even bought on that holiday) but I didn't wear that so much. 'De trop' I thought...except I probably thought it in English.

martine said...

We had a Maxi too and always voted it our favourite car because it had a bench type seat in the back rather than shaped seats, much more comfortable for the four of us ... though we probably fought a lot I remember stuff like taking it in turns to sit on the floor (pre-seatbelt days) so those on the seat would have a bit more room.
Lovely nostalgic poem, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Your childhood holiday experience was very much the same as mine. I have extremely fond memories of my holidays spent messing about on rowing boats, going on long walks looking for berries and reading. This was a lovely reminder of that time!

Rachel Fox said...

I remember the fun of the Maxi back seat was sliding along it (edging someone else into the door of course!) but then we didn't often have as many kids in the back as your family, Martine!

I must be getting old if I'm majoring in nostalgia...makes you wonder what today's kids will feel nostalgic about ..? The wii (we don't have one), aeroplanes (our daughter has only experienced these minimally so far), X Factor (we don't watch it)?

Niamh B said...

lovely poem rachel - and god yes the seats could be scorching... and all the car fights - I only had one sibling and that was bad enough!!

Niamh B said...

my brother used to try to sit on me when I was on the phone btw...

Totalfeckineejit said...

We never had a car(blimey sounds like Monty Python 'We had it tough'sketch)and holidayed by bus and train and ferry. But my first car was a 'Morris Marina 1.3 super'(though there was nothing super about it!) lime green with black 'go faster' stripe down the side.Happy days!Great poem too!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Fantastic reading foxo.Still trying to guage those yorkshire vowels,I'm still getting JCC and Sylvia, which is fandabbydosee by me!!

Rachel Fox said...

We often lived in quite out of the way places and would never have gone anywhere without a car! Plus my Mum was very keen on getting herself (and us) places... I was glad I never had to 'tell her it's time to stop driving/you're past it' (she would have sulked majorly!). As it was she drove right up till she got ill in April of this year. Ok, she was largely in the centre of the road by this time but she was still driving...

NanU said...

This evokes kidhood summer trips perfectly. Two brothers in the backseat with me, too, and yep they tried whatever they could get away with. I did win a window because they knew I would barf on them otherwise.
Thanks for the busride!

Erratic Thoughts said...

Waaaow I liked it very very much :)
This brings back so many childhood memories when we used to go on short picnics :)
I used to put my head stuck out of the window n would shiver with pink noses :D
Ohh n well my twin-sis used to actually sit on me (n me on her :D)
Sometimes we never used to need anybody else...just the two of us :)

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for reading, fellow trippers.

Titus said...

Magnificent! Had a boyfriend with a Maxi.
So many memories evoked near perfectly, particularly loved the slippery hot vinyl. And that penultimate verse.

Rachel Fox said...
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