On the Tober with Loolladi - a poem by Raine Geoghegan
Romani poet Raine Geohegan’s poem about her granny, published exclusively in the Travellers’ Times, ahead of the launch of ‘Apple Water’, Raine’s book of poetry, at the Poetry Café, Covent Garden, London, on the 17th December.
On the Tober with Loolladi
Every Friday and Saturday Granny was up early tying bunches of loolladi then
putting them on her cart. She wore a paisley scarf, a dark blue money belt with
a side pocket round her waist, gold earrings and a gold sovereign on a chain at
I liked to sit on the back doorstep and watch her, she tied them with a type of string
called bass. When it got wet it frayed and smelled of Weetabix. She worked swiftly, rhythmically and when all the flowers were on the cart she stood back, admiring
them as if she was looking at a work of art. My favourites were dahlias, deep purples,
soft reds, bright orange.I also loved sweet peas. Sometimes Granny would give me
one to put on my pillow. I remember once falling asleep smelling the lovely scent.
I would open the gate for her, in my pyjamas. The familiar sound of the wheels
rolling over the drain in the alleyway made me think of trains.
‘Bye my gel, see to Granfaver, won’t yer?’
‘Alright Granny.’ I’d reply.
On her return in the late afternoon, her cart empty, her face glowing. She’d say.
‘Alf, make me a cup of mesci, I’m parched.’
While Grandfather was making her tea she would untie the money belt, count out
her poshes. I’d kneel on the floor and watch her place the coins and notes in piles.
Then she’d say.
‘The Lord’s good, but I ain’t arf dukkering’.
Into my hands she’d drop some coins.
‘Right now, let’s get the ‘obben on’.
That night we’d have a proper feast, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, ham and piccalilli,
carrots and peas, fresh crusty bread or the left over Joey Gray that Grandfather loved.
Sometimes we had fresh strawberries from Kent and whipped cream.
When we finished eating, we’d flop on the sofa and armchairs for a while and watch
telly, I’d help Granny to wash up. Grandfather, well he’d go for a walk and a smoke,
I could smell it on his breath when he kissed me goodnight. Sometimes I would teach
Granny a new word, writing it down so she could copy letter for letter. The curtains pulled, doors locked. I would go to bed and fall asleep listening to Grandfather playing a lullaby
on his harmonica.
(ober - road; Loolladi - flowers; Mesci - tea; Dukkering - aching; Obben - dinner.)
Read all about it in the Travellers' Times!
Read our other Travellers’ Times articles on Raine Geohegan and her work by clicking on the links below: