Monday, 28 May 2012

Marital Secrets

Every week, Julia at Julia's Place, imparts a prompt around which bloggers must construct a hundred words. I find it addictive. The idea is creative writing but I find those random challenges ferret out aspects of domestic reality that I might never have thought to blog about. This week, in honour of the Jubilee, Julia requires a poem that reflects the passing of sixty years. I have no idea how to write poetry and my domestic reality doesn't yet accommodate sixty years. But then I remembered my father's oft-narrated tale of a colleague on his local paper who returned stunned from a routine visit to report a couple's diamond wedding anniversary:


Side by side they sit in the parlour,
Serenity on chintz.
Her hand, fragile as the flowered porcelain, pours the tea
And, wordlessly, he thanks her.
Behind, their family drifts through the decades on the mantel,
The newlyweds briefly multiplying, 
Then, as years pass, shrinking back into a twosome;
Shrivelled but smiling in the silver frames.
Sixty years.
'What,' asks their guest, 'is the secret?'
'Give..' she quavers, 'and take.'
Her husband bears the teapot to the kitchen and, urgent, she leans forward.
A pulse of energy awakens the room.
Notebook poised the guest awaits new wisdom.
'I hate him, you know,' says the old lady.
He returns, tartan slippers treading meekly.
She flings a glance then, hissing, confides:
'I've always hated him.'


39 comments:

  1. i love the twist in the tale. Unfortunately true for a lot of people I suspect.

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    Was trying to tweet you but can never remember your blooming twitter ID! Tried every combination and then gave up!

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  2. Did NOT see that coming lol!x

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    1. I don't think the poor young reporter did either. This must have happened 20 years ago and the tale still lives on strong in our family.

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  3. Brilliant. I don't know if it's sad or admirable but I'm sure generations of women lived their whole lives like that. He was probably very content with her.

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    1. I suppose it's sad and admirable, although admirable only if she bore him stoically and didn't make his life a misery. I never heard that part of the tale. Or what he felt about her.

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  4. Wow. Please tell me that's not true?! Brilliantly written - I love it.

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    1. Thank you. It is true. My father was the news editor on the local paper and has often regaled us with the shock on the face of the young reporter when she returned from the assignment.

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  5. After 60 years, I guess she must love to hate him...
    I love the family drifting through the decades on the mantel.

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    1. I think love and hate are probably quite closely intertwined in a long marriage. Held together by need.

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  6. Replies
    1. Yes, but is it spirit or bitterness. I've never decided.

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    1. Don't know what that means but I'll take it as a compliment!

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  8. Bet she missed him if she outlived him, though. Hating him probably gave her a reason to get up in the morning.

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    1. I think you're right about that. My Grandmother always claimed to hate her husband but she missed having someone to look after when he died.

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  9. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that you do have an idea how to write poetry. I loved this, but was left wondering what her husband's thoughts were on 'the secret'. Do you fancy writing another poem from his point of view?

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    1. I agree, but fiction's not my forte. This is a true story and unfortunately the husband's views were not revealed. Over to you....!

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  10. Ooh Matron, that's a very beautifully written tale but ouch, it's also very sad. I served my trainee-ship on the local paper and I recall visiting lots of old folk for various reasons. Happy days.

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    1. I've always thought I'd love to work on a local paper to do stories like that. I'm sure this tale is not unsusual; only her startling honesty was.

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  11. Heh. Great twist. Nicely done!

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  12. Oh no! What a sad twist at the end. I'm sure there are lots of couples like that. Maybe not 60 years but time they have stuck it out. What a waste. Thank you for joining this special 100wcgu.

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    1. I loved it. Poetry is more fun than I thought, though not sure this really counts as a poem.

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  13. Some people are happy in their misery, I like that this is unpredictable :-)

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    1. You're right. Some people do seem to thrive on unhappiness. Whether she did or not we shall never know.

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  14. DancingInTheRain6 June 2012 at 08:15

    Beautifully written. Surprising that after so long together she still finds the need to hide her true feelings - or maybe it's worth her while to be nice for the cups of tea that he 'meekly' brings. There is nothing to suggest that he doesn't feel exactly the same after 60 years. She can't always have hated him - I'm presuming that it wasn't as long ago as to have been a forced marriage.

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    1. I suppose girls in the early part of the century were expected to marry and often picked the first reasonably presentable one who came along rather than remain on the shelf. Or maybe, like so many marriages now, it seemed good at the time but swiftly wore off. Only then divorce was a scandal.

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  15. lol love it. Did not see the ending coming. x

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  16. I love ones that end like that! Wonder if he knows?

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    1. So do we all. Maybe he disliked her too. Sadly we shall never find out!

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  17. Great poem. That generation alwasy 'stuck it out.'

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    1. They did. Which was probably good and bad. She'd probably have felt lost without him and without her 'hatred' to give her days meaning.

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  18. Love and hate - so close yet so far. Unexpected ending.

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    1. Indeed. Like any extremes of emotion or belief, they often join into a circle.

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