Back to Candia and her expressions of thwarted ambition. Some years ago she and a friend- not Brassica, Carissima or Chlamydia- went to the silk mill at Whitchurch in Hampshire and be-moaned their sacrificed careers. Her friend had been brought up against a backdrop of weavers and the cotton industry and Candia- perhaps surprising to some who know her- also had childhood experience of living among those who served in factories and the shipbuilding industry. Lord Denning had also worked his way up in society, to live in the rarefied (?) village where the mill is situated. Though we moaned about what we could have achieved, we thought that we had come quite a distance, courtesy of our education.
WHITCHURCH SILK MILL
(THE TEA ROOM)
No mulberries, no worms, visible bolls.
This is the factory that supplies
those who take silk, like Master of the Rolls,
local Lord Denning and those who can rise
above their circumstances. We haven’t.
Somehow the rapid mill race passed us by;
we failed life’s test. So, now we sit, lament
lost law careers, trying to work out why
the Fates have tangled our life threads, greased yarn
of domesticity, snarled warp, woof
and pirned the weft to create our pattern.
Sitting among redundant looms, the roof
low overhead, our conversation weaves,
shuttles back and forth; our run-of-the-mill
cocooned existence slubbed. This achieves
little. And yet the vibrant daffodils
on the riverbank are so glorious
that they elevate despondent mood
oppressed by term time’s laborious
routine, family worries, motherhood.
We’re not chained to the bench: we leave by car;
though working class, we have left industry-
two northern lasses who have come quite far,
should we review family history.
We take for granted cotton, silk and wool
(which used to take two hours to spin a yard).
We escaped the tyranny of the spool
and heave no bales. Our lives are not so hard.