‘East end girl, dancing the Lambeth WalkBill Brandt, 1939


He’s set it up, of course. Or, rather, framed it.
There’d be no feigning this young woman’s delight
in being ‘free and easy’ and doing
‘as you darn well pleasy’. She’s got her best blouse on,
with shoulder puffs, her sister’s shoes, which fit her now,
black ankle socks and shoulder length, unpermed hair
freshly washed – and waved, probably with Kirby grips.
Doin’ the walk, she lifts the hem of her skirt,
revealing her slip – and smiles coquettishly.

Beside her is a line, a queue almost of
female acolytes. (The only boy looks away).
They’re pre-pubescent, excited, nervous at what they see:
grown up clothes, shapely legs, unimaginable bust,
a sensuousness that, unwilled, will be theirs.

Down the street of terraced houses, symmetrical
as barracks, a woman strides, her back turned
on this miracle: a girl who knows
she will never grow old – ‘Any ev’ning,
any day…Doin’ the Lambeth Walk.’ Oi!




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  1. #1 by Lesley Johnson - June 4th, 2009 at 18:16

    I love this – does the magical Bill Brandt (I know a fair bit of his stuff) proud. Plus we’ve all – male and female – been there. Years back maybe. But confident, bold, happy. Eternal?

  2. #2 by David - June 10th, 2009 at 09:20

    Yes, eternal: a miracle – and a joke. The photographer has recruited us as witnesses. The girl knows she will live forever. The woman thinks she knows differently.

  3. #3 by Anne Wynne - July 29th, 2009 at 14:24

    Lambeth Walk – Loved it! It’s warm, tender and northern. I love the details of this young girl being “grown-up” Found all the details very enjoyable and it just made me smile as I was reading it. Reminded me a little of Sylvia Selzer’s screenplay, ‘So I’ll be Jane Russell then!’ – I think because of the era and setting.

  4. #4 by Gina Marie Lazar Lovrencevic - March 17th, 2013 at 14:57

    Ekphrasis! Love this.

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