The Trouble with Grace
Sitting round my father’s table, he insisted
on saying grace. Mum worked in the laundry –
he was an inspector on the buses, so mercifully,
family meals were rare.
“Manners maketh man,” he maintained;
as kids, we were forbidden to speak
till we’d cleared our plates –
finished what the good Lord sent to us.
He never once gave thanks to Mum –
fingers red raw. Peeling spuds
didn’t do washday hands any favours.
She was nice – bought us Tizer sometimes;
pink champagne, me and my sister called it.
It went to our heads and the fizz, to our noses.
Trouble was, sometimes we’d get the giggles.
We couldn’t help ourselves, even though
we knew where it would end. We’d watch him
dab the corners of his mouth with a napkin,
smooth back his Brylcreemed hair
and leave the room...
After what seemed an eternity,
we’d watch the door-knob turn –
catch our breath as we’d picture him
on the threshold; leather strap in hand.
He was clever though – knew a thing
or two about kids, because it did the trick.
We weren’t smiling...Not anymore.
‘For what we are about to receive
may the Lord make us truly grateful’
gained a whole new dimension.
Years later – sitting with my brood
round the table, laughter is mandatory
and grace is a dirty word.