The prompt for Day 9 of Everyday Words 30 days of prompts is from Alison Brackenbury’s Mr Hill and Me
Interesting things stood out for me. The first was the line about how the school ‘knew no one they might ring‘ back in 1959 when this poem was set and she has to walk home alone with measles. It made me think of how we take this constant communication for granted. We all, or at least most of us, have mobile phones constantly on us. And those who don’t are seen as odd. In fact you cannot get on to your bank or pay by Paypal or other such things without a text from your bank. We are constantly in communication – texting, phoning, social mediaing, Instagraming, Whatsapping, blogging our thoughts :). It is hard to imagine a time without being able to contact someone in an instant.
I remember when I was about 9 or 10 being in charge of my little sister. My mum worked part time and during school holidays we would go off with our friends for the morning, the older kids keeping an eye on the little ones. We were all primary school age so no one over 11. Not a mobile between us and even if we did have most would have had no one to phone anyway.
But my first thought when I read about her walking home alone and not knowing who was there was that she was neglected, that she had no one to care for her. Because I am putting my 21st century lens on this 1959 time of life.
The next bit that jumped out at me was about Mr Hill. The poem unfolds with her getting weaker and weaker as the illness of the measles takes over and then we have Mr Hill sweeping. Now for some reason I picked up something ominous about Mr Hill. But I think again this is because my 21st century lens has seen and read too much in which the single men, especially older single men, are to be watched out for, that they are going to grab the child – Pedophile? Child catcher? Murderer?
So I read this poem as one of child neglect and was waiting for child abuse but this is not what this poem is about. It is about how life was back in 1959. Men swept the road, parents could not be phone up to pick up their children from school if they were sick, kids were expected to be able to walk back and forth to school.
Was it safe then that it is now? Who knows. Were children back then more neglected than they are now? Who knows. But what I do know, and it is similar to yesterday’s post, is that not everything is as I see it. And also that in 60+ years things have moved on and changed. I need to read things from the perspective they were written. But also to be aware that everything I read, see, and even do is view through the lens of where I sit now and my experiences.
[I haven’t written a poem from this prompt. Only this blog post]