Weekends at the Wheatsheaf 1950s

Ghost Walks

You could listen to the ventriloquist on the wireless,

You could watch your dad build a television set,

It looked good in the shed but irritated the neighbours who had tellies

Cuz it transmitted rather than received and interfered with their legit reception,

You could sit on the arm of a chair,

Pretend it was a horse and you were the Lone Ranger,

When at last you got a proper telly,

You could think that Swindon must be really important,

Cuz when you went on day trips to Weston or Weymouth,

Everybody else seemed to come from Swindon too,

You could think that suburbs of Swindon,

Like Upper and Lower Stratton were proper rural villages,

Especially when out the back at the Wheatsheaf,

In a sort of green tin corrugated structure

Sipping Vimto (anagram of vomit) in the dark,

Absent-mindedly eating blue bags of salt,

Gathered from out of your bag of potato crisps,

Pressing your face against the small window,

That opened a light into the public bar,

Where all was high spirits and sing song,

And where grown-ups seemed to be behaving

In a most un-grown up way;

And you glimpsed the difference in meaning

Between a public and a private house,

You began to appreciate what that arcane term meant:

‘Licensed premises’,

For this was a world far away from mars bars and sweets

In the much frequented off-licence.

This was incomprehension,

And yet comprehension.

Wide-eyed perception.

A Damascene revelation.

Life wouldn’t be the same again.

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