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Before Churchill took the railings, evacuees

from Liverpool were lined up by the park

one September Sunday afternoon.

Local residents queued to take their pick.

Innocent days! My widowed Granny

and two spinster aunties – ex-Scousers

(though Toxteth Park not Scottie Road),

the sisters Great War collateral damage –

lined up to do their duty. They couldn’t cope.

The one they chose used the ‘f word’

and wet the bed. They gave her back

– and mentioned her, and what she might

have been, until they died.



Note: the piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ –







© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Lesley Johnson
    January 25, 2010

    Have only ever read about this fairly common experience of an evacuee’s rejection in some general accounts of the second world war, so I was pleased to read this perceptive poem. Its low key masks two raw wounds. Everybody can readily access the feelings of the child. But there can be few things worse than failing to live up to one’s own high ideals, as happens with these adults. When I was a teenager and with a full life of my own to absorb my attention, my parents tried fostering twice. They had always wished for a son. The first boy’s placement was a complete success and two years later he was warmly welcomed back into his own family home. The second twelve year old not even my amazingly wise and compassionate father was able to help. Eventually my parents admitted defeat, and Jimmy was taken back into Care with the same dismaying result for my well meaning Mum and Dad as is described in this poem.

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