Esther Philips, oldest of thirteen, came

from Liverpool, had tea with Buffalo

Bill and, having siblings and her mother,

a drunkard, to care for, refused an offer

to join a chorus line. When I knew her, she

had no teeth, wore the same two black dresses

and munched Quaker Oats between meals. She cried

when I played ‘La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin’

on the upright in the back room. She outlived

two husbands and four of seven children –

and died saying that she knew how Jesus felt.




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  1. #1 by Alex Cox - February 22nd, 2010 at 19:00

    Did Buffalo Bill come to Liverpool?
    I thought it was Roy Rogers! My father told me he rode Trigger
    from the Town Hall to the Adelphi, and up the steps there.
    He wanted to name me Roy, in the cowboy’s honour. But my mum put paid to that.

  2. #2 by David - February 23rd, 2010 at 18:40

    Buffalo Bill, as part of his European tour, brought his Wild West Show to Liverpool in 1891, when Esther was 19.
    Roy Rogers – and this is googled knowledge as a result of your comment – visited Liverpool in 1954 and did as his father told you.
    Your mother was right. Roy Cox could only have become a train spotter.
    Thank you. There’s another poem here.

  3. #3 by Lesley Johnson - March 4th, 2010 at 10:13

    Final line the – er – crowning glory. Has Julie Walters played her yet?

  4. #4 by Lesley Johnson - March 4th, 2010 at 10:21

    P.S. And I knew all about Roy Rogers hoofing it. Plus Buffalo Bill’s tour. This date makes sense as presumably his company would start or finish with a booking at the port before/after touring the country.

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