Friday, November 9

Knees Up Mother Brown

Skating with the snowman (and dancing the can-can) has aggravated my Housemaid's Knee.

It's a condition I have suffered with many a year due to scrubbing the floors of the Workhouse as a young lass.

I was lucky to leave there when I did. You have to be thankful for small mercies I suppose...
I sometimes look up at the bit of blue sky
High over my head, with a tear in my eye.
Surrounded by walls that are too high to climb,
Confined like a felon without any crime,
Not a field nor a house nor a hedge I can see -
Not a plant, not a flower, nor a bush nor a tree...
But I'm getting, I find, too pathetic by half,
And my object was only to cause you to laugh;
So my love to yourself, your husband and daughter,
I'll drink to your health with a tin of cold water:
Of course, we've no wine, not porter, nor beer,
So you see that we all are teetotallers here.

James Withers Reynolds

An unfortunate man who spent some time in Newmarket
workhouse later became known as ‘the workhouse poet’.
This is how he described life there in a verse letter to his sister,
‘Written from Newmarket Union’, 1846


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