Dad went to the pub on a Friday night,
On Monday Mum went to the flicks
With the factory girls (if they was allowed)
To get their girly kicks.
Sometimes they’d go for a drink together
Down Green Lane to the old Royal Oak
While us kids stood outside with a packet of crisps
And shared a big bottle of Coke.
The pubs back then didn’t serve posh grub,
No room for coq au vin.
Just jellied eels and whelks and prawns
From the man in the cockle-van.
The spivs and the rogues would be out in their droves
But one day they’ll be sorry,
Selling the stuff that they said they had got
“Off the back of a lorry”
The tally-man came to collect for the sofa
And, if he was lucky, got paid.
And with Mrs Nextdoor (if the rumours were true)
He might have the luck to get laid.
Playing cards at my Gran’s on a Saturday night
(With matches if times were hard)
Stood by the side of my favourite uncle
Helping him counting the cards.
Summer nights were spent in the yard
Throwing the darts at the board.
I was too young to throw but not too young to know
How many each uncle had scored.
That’s how I learned my tables and sums,
For me they presented no trouble;
I’d calculate quickly if a “finish” was on,
Remembering to end on a double.
Holidays mostly were days at the seaside
And my Dad drove us down in a van.
Four kids and three cousins all packed in the back
With the cushions from off the divan.
Collecting up bottles to get thruppence back
Under the pier at Southend.
The Kursaal a palace of lights and excitement
Where our thruppenny bits we could spend.
There was knees-ups and parties and of course there was rows
(No point in telling a lie)
My Mum on the stairs having had “one too many”
Having a jolly good cry.
We wasn’t posh and we didn’t have much
(Though Aunt Flo had a telly!)
But we had clothes to wear, albeit threadbare,
And food enough for our belly
Being Cockney wasn’t all “apples and pears”
And abusing your “trouble and strife”.
It was more about family and doing your best
And paying your way in this life.
Looking back on those days and summing ‘em up:
We was rich beyond measure, though poor;
We took life as it came and we coped with it all;
We got knocked down and came back for more.
So if I had the chance to live over again,
To dictate how my life would be sculptured;
Would I be monied or snobby or posh?
Gertcha! I’d be Cockney-cultured!