‘The following poem is based on a true story that happened in 1932 as told by my mother. The young girl was her friend in Rutland Street School. The Policeman and the “Kindly Woman” were husband and wife...’

 The Bobby and Me

 I was only thirteen years of age
 When I first went on the Street
 A ribbon in me curly hair
 And not a shoe upon me feet
 Me Ma’ she had the rent to pay
 She said there was no other way
 To Holy Mary she would pray
 A nice man I would meet

 She powdered up me pretty face
 And put lipstick on me mouth
 She brushed me hair a little more
 And told me not to pout
 “The men will want to see you grin
 And that’s a way to take them in
 Make them feel they’re free from sin
 When they take their money out”

 I stood beneath a gas lit lamp
 On the corner of Faithful Place
 A black shawl on me shoulders
 To keep the cold out just in case
 The moon cast down an eerie glow
 The stars all hid in shameful woe
 For this child standing down below
 About to lose her grace

 Alone I stood by Faithful Place
 The night so dark and chill
 Shadows dancing on the street
 The gas lamp lost its will
 The night grew cold
 And so did I
 A stranger came
 I caught his eye
 I wished that he would pass me by
 He stood there tall and still

 “Now young girl” his sharp voice said
 “Why aren’t you at home in bed
 Here’s two bob go home instead
 Of standing in the rain”

 This Bobby he looked down at me
 Filled with compassion I could see
 No harm or danger could there be
 “And don’t come out again”

 I thanked this tall and gentle man
 For treating me so kind
 As up the street I quickly ran
 My mother for to find
 I prayed “Hail Mary I’ll never sin
 To temptation I won’t give in
 And this I’ll never do again
 I’ll leave it all behind”

 With a Holy Medal in one hand
 And money in the other
 Through the rain and cold I ran
 Back to my waiting Mudder
 Her face I couldn’t wait to see
 Her sweet embrace enfolding me
 The love that she would show to me
 A love that’s like no other

 When I walked into our room
 She was kneeling on the floor
 Her head was hanging down in shame
 For what she’d done before
 Sending out her little child
 Her little girl so meek and mild
 Into the streets so dark and wild
 To feed her children four

 Next morn there came a rap tap tap
 And I got out of bed
 Was the knock outside our door
 Or in my dreamy head?
 A kindly woman stood outside
 With the Bobby by her side
 “We’ve come to help” her voice implied
 “We’ve brought some tea and bread”

 And so our situation changed
 Thanks to that lovely man
 “Don’t you worry Mam” he said
 “We’ll do all we can”
 “But there is just one Golden Rule
 Your daughter there must go to school
 a Teacher friend of mine there who’ll
 Teach her all she can

 And so next day I set off out
 My face all shining bright
 With curly hair and ribbon red
 And socks all gleaming white
 I went to school in Rutland Street
 With new shoes upon me feet
 Thank’s to the man I chanced to meet
 Beneath the old gas light