Monday, 5 October 2009

Still In The Good Old Days?

It's all your fault, Blogpals. You've entertained me with so many offshoot tales as a result of those old poems, I'm tempted to repeat the recipe today. Trouble is, once I start reading my dear old book, I can't put it down! Then I end up wanting to share it with you from cover to cover; blame it on my second childhood if you like, but I can't help but think there are many deeper meanings among the verses it contains.

I imagine there must be others who share this view, otherwise, when I searched Amazon.Co.UK over the weekend, why did I discover a whole sheaf of volumes by this author, which were demanding silly money? Some of the earliest volumes of Marion St John Webb were listed for £200 - £300 pounds. Was this due to interest from antiquarian book addicts, who value books simply for their age, or are there a few oldies like me, who simply love what they contain? Maybe the prices were the result of greedy sellers, jumping on the band wagon when they spotted some of her books for sale, and couldn't wait to make a profit on a copy of their own that was stashed at the back of their bookcase.

Be that as it may, I've chosen to share with you in this post, at no cost, a delightful view of home help in the days when this was more than a mere 'lady who does' for you occasionally. I am, of course , referring to the gracious times when live-in servants were found in the grand houses of the well to do classes. I hasten to add, if I'd been around in those days, I'd have definitely been one of the servants : scullery maid : nursery maid : cook : seamstress, even, if I was extremely lucky.

From the illustrations accompanying the poem I've chosen, it's easy to tell, Jane is the Nanny, while Emily Jane is possibly a nursery maid, but more likely, a maid-of-all-work. The hierarchy of hired help had strict rules. Nanny would have been queen of the nursery, the maid a lowly subject...

Very Pertikerler

Jane says she's most pertikerler
about the clothes she buys,
an' all her things is plain but good,
'cos cheap things isn't wise.

But Emily Jane, she laughs an' says
'I like things gay and bright,
and I don't care how cheap they are,
they'll do for me all right.'

Jane says she's most pertikerler
about the things she eats.
She won't have drefful foreign stuff,
but on'y English meats.

But Emily Jane she laughs an' says
'My! What a taste you've got!
I'm not a bit pertikerler,
so long as there's a lot!'

Jane says she's most pertikerler
about what child'en do,
an' thinks they should be nice an' quiet,
an' have a clean face too.

But Emily Jane she laughs an' says,
'A bit of noise don't hurt,
and if the kid's a happy face,
well - what's a bit of dirt?!


  1. This is such a happy poem, I can sense the different outlooks just from the punctuation, makes me hear a plummy voice and a happy maids down to earth tones.

    love Granny

  2. Just about sums up the two ages Jinksy - love it!

  3. Great poem...and I too, smiled as I read it.
    (I'm glad you explained nanny vs. nursery maid.)
    Smiles from Jackie

  4. You set the poem up perfectly Jinksy...enjoyed it.

  5. What a wonderfully apt poem! Particularly the last verse - made me smile ever wider!

  6. "She won't have drefful foreign stuff,
    but on'y English meats." How appropriate for today even with all the hype surrounding mad cow disease.

  7. Another lovely poem. Perhaps your recent posts added to the popularity of her books ;-)

  8. I think I'd find meself a bit more like Emily Jane, yes. 'Twas a fun read-along Jinksy. Ta much for sharing this.

    As for book prices, search round and you may find some on the cheap ;)

  9. Just what I needed to read today to bring a smile. Perfect. Thank you Jinksy

  10. i lived in africa for a few years where those live in servants were the norm for most families

    liking the poem by the way

  11. I have posted the award from Brinkbeest (with appropriate attributions concerning both you and your co-conspirator.)

  12. I definitely would have been of the servant class as was my grandfather (sort of) when he worked on this estate in your country.

  13. very cute write, and goes to show too!-well, many things are said here. although, those greedy hands long for the financial gain of powerful, artistic writers past, I think it wonderful the value being priceless

  14. Here in Southern California many people have live-in nannies. The nannies hail from points south, (usually), Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala. Although one might (If you have big bucks to shell out) obtain European nannies.

    I'm pertikerler about my poetry, like this one.

  15. Both Jane and Emily Jane have a point. It is a matter of cutting your cloth accordingly.

  16. I loved the poem but would never pay a great deal for a book with it in.

  17. Love this; another time, another world.

  18. Well isn't that the luvly poem an all? I smiled all the way through and have a sneaking love for Emily Jane.


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