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My Clapham Party Girl

A poem by Bryan Hancock. Dedicated to his Clapham Party Girl, Edwina.

At the top of the stairs she was waiting below
I descended quickly and passing, just said ‘hello’ Looking over my shoulder she was on singles duty
So quickly returned to get to bask in her beauty

She had lovely green eyes with brown specks and a smile to die for
I so enjoyed our chat I just wanted more
I suggested a date and to my surprise she said yes too
So we met the following week under the clock at Waterloo

Her name was Edwina a little beauty to behold
Waiting patiently for our new romance to unfold
We went to ‘The Coal Hole’ a well known pub in the Strand
To get to know each other and hold her hand

I knew then that she was the girl for me
I was not sure if she felt the same but knew in my heart that we would see
As months passed we got closer, encouraged by Gracie her mum
Engagement came round, we were so happy, Gracie beat the drum

In the early days I learned so much about her, family, friends, work and dancing
All of which was so entrancing
She loved fish and chips and other simple fare
A South Londoner with pride and charismatic flair.

Our Wedding was planned with venues selected
The 6th September 1969 at St Edwards Church, Mottingham, a modest guest list projected
My family on one side with furs and jewellery adorned
On the other, her little aunties so lovely, excitable, simply attired and not to be scorned

She looked so beautiful in her wedding dress produced by Gracie
Brother Derek gave her away, proud he was, her dress so lacy
What a lucky man to have such a lovely bride
I couldn’t believe my luck I looked at her with pride

My Mum and Dad, Gracie too, so engaged
Saw Margaret and John as bridesmaid and page
My friend David was best man supreme
Cool and calm almost serene

We went into the Church awaiting my bride
I turned around and there she was, entering with pride
A beauty to behold with her smile so entrancing
On the arm of Derek, she was almost dancing

After the service and photo calls, off we went to the reception
With her little aunties chucking confetti with preplanned deception
From then time just flew by, a simple meal with champagne to toast
It was time to go, guests waved us goodbye, a joyful time much better than most

A drive down the A20 took us swiftly to Maidstone
Our new home welcomed us, now no longer alone
Tired but so happy I carried her over the threshold
Her happiness endured it was a joy to behold

Our time at Maidstone was blissful but hard work too
Edwina and I were so happy with disputes very few
We had great young neighbours and friends to share
My beautiful wife was so popular and easy to bear

We managed our time with household chores to combine
She kept our house spotless, whilst DIY and a neat garden were mine
Visits to family and friends were a treat for us both
Edwina enjoyed those occasions, to miss them she would loath

We loved Kent, the ‘Garden of England’ with lambs in the Spring and fruit in profusion
She cherished the countryside,villages and cherries, it wasn’t an allusion
Whitstable she loved as a child, gave her happy memories of bygone days
A holiday caravan park, it’s chickens and eggs, offered so much fun during childhood plays

Time to move on with my company to Bisley near Lightwater
It was here that we had our firstborn, a daughter
Sara was a lovely baby, cheeky and fun
She was adored and cherished just like her mum

Edwina worked hard looking after our babe, walking with the pushchair ever so far
There was only one way to help out, we bought her first car
It was a simple solution the problem was eased
We were so happy, Gracie was particularly pleased

Three years later our son James arrived, three weeks early too, what a surprise
A tiny baby but a beautiful boy, such a joy, we couldn’t believe our eyes
We discovered the convenience of the disposable nappy
A clumsy dad and very efficient mum were so happy

Our house was too small for our growing family team
So we moved again to a detached chalet in Ash Green
Pets joined us, Whiskey the cat, a hamster, and mischievous rabbit called Hoppit
Edwina’s love for animals shared by us all just could not stop it.

The children were growing fast, Sara was ten and James was seven
So our fourth move to Hook in 1983 was simply heaven
We were very lucky with our spanking new home
Eddy was delighted, lovely facilities and places to roam

An abundance of experiences there, memories so warm
Lovely neighbours, again new friendships were born
New schools to attend, challenges to meet and enjoy
No problems with Mum by their side to deploy

Work was demanding, not an issue with Edwina at my side
She offered brilliant support and went along for the ride
During the day, with the children at school, she worked at an employment agency
It was challenging but fun, filling every vacancy

Her first Mini was purchased, she had five in all
Perfect for Eddy being so small
She loved the car, so easy to drive
Such simple convenience saw her thrive

About this time I was made redundant, with a pay off to invest
My beautiful wife was so understanding, I decided to work for myself selling coffee, it seemed best
She gave me wonderful support in the early years, the business blossomed and grew
Running the office and dealing with calls, her home was taken over but complaints were few

The children grew up, Sara met a partner, her first son Kenny arrived
Edwina spared no effort to ensure our daughter and her child thrived
After college James travelled to Australia, South America and all places south
Prior to going to University to study geography at Plymouth

Returning from University with his degree in the bag, James secured a job in Pensions
He stayed a while, but fled the nest to his own house, with good intentions
As always, mum helped out, was always there if needed
He took her advice and wisdom on board, all was heeded

Two tabby kittens Meg and Millie arrived
From the RSPCA adoption centre they derived
She couldn’t resist these two charming sisters
Sadly Millie perished early, but Meg remained for nineteen years with us

We travelled throughout the British Isles
You loved it all, so many miles
Coast and country were dear to you
And ‘Dorset Days Out’ held a special view

Europe too, Turkey, Greece and Portugal to the fore
But Italy was preferred, seeking more
So many trips there, north to south, east to west
You loved it’s warmth, food, passion and flair, simply the best

After ten years, a warehouse was bought to locate our business enterprise
Staff hired too, expanding it’s size
Eddy got her home back, no more taking in deliveries or dealing with calls
Time was her own with no pitfalls

So now she could relax with friends and family
The History Group, and volunteering as a classroom assistant so happily
‘Swimmin’, and reading books too was always a passion
The library became a weekly obsession

Sara had another son, Matthew, two grandsons now, we were so excited
James revealed a lady love of his own, Sharon, they were a team really united
They moved in together, introducing their first child Rhys a year or two on
Much to Eddy’s delight a second son followed, Ellis this time, a fourth grandson

The time came to sell our business and retire
It had been twenty odd years since I lit the fire
An attractive offer came our way
Which we accepted without delay

Again united as a team, we decided to sell the house, it was a good bet
Moving to the New Forest in beautiful Dorset
We knew the area well with a chance to expand our horizons more
Relocation went quickly, to another lovely home in the village of Bransgore

Nine years of bliss enjoying stunning coastline and countryside
Regular visits from family and friends ensured all enjoyed the ride
A particular highlight being our dear son’s wedding to Sharon
It was an unforgettable day for Edwina to dwell on

Our happiness became deflated, with the loss of Derek her brother
From childhood the sibling union was like no other
Devastated and shocked she remained strong outwardly
But silently mourned his passing so personally

Eighteen months later my Edwina left us suddenly too
An extremely rare disease took her, the cause of which nobody knew
These were really dark days, a struggle to deal with, known by a few
Oh for the joy once again of those fifty two years spent with you

You were such fun so witty and strong
Such a wonderful wife all along
My life I shared with you, no regret
I was so lucky we met

I will never forget, you will always be with me
My memories are fresh and so clear to see
You had such a strength but gentle too
Thank you my darling for being just you.

‘My Clapham Party Girl.’

Bryan – February 2022