Under The Stairs

entry picture





In a stony cold house, many years ago now
Lived a family as happy as fate would allow.
Though leaking the roof, with cracked window pane
And open to elements like wind and the rain.
No bolt on the door, no lock and no chain.
Nothing to steal , no nor nothing to gain.
The children were happy. They ran wild and free.
I remember it well, for the eldest was me.

The garden unkempt,  with weeds o`er grown
A paradise, a jungle, and all of our own.
Cowboys and Indians, Superman too
Batman and Robin, yes all these we knew.
Our personal friends, in times of great need
We just had to call them, they always would heed!
An old tin can for “ kick can and hop it”
Though crotchety neighbours complained us to “stop it!”

Many the games, like yo yos and jacks
And Hide and Seek played down other folks backs.
And tunnelling through barns packed tight with sweet bales
With the smell of warm hay every time you inhaled
And sliding down chutes into vats of soft chaff
Where covered you lay there to rest and to laugh.
And prayed that the farmer was having his tea
Or it was serious trouble for siblings and me!!

The best game of all without doubt it was when
We were secretly building our hide out, a den.
Sometimes-in fields and sometimes in trees
And sometimes in ditches ajoining the lees.
With branches or rushes or grasses knee high
Unseen and unknown from all who passed bye.
But the secretest place, our own little lair
Was the small dark cubbyhole under the stair.

A curtain the entrance to magical cave
A flickering torch, the only light made.
For I was a witch who could brew a fine spell
And brother a wizard, and he could as well!
We `d cast our dark magic, brother and me
The world all around us would just cease to be
In dungeons and darkness we` d wander alone
Slaying huge dragons,before we came home

Woe betide anyone on foolish mission
To enter our cavern without our permission!
With “izzy and wizzy and wozzy and woo”
And “Turn into a cherry I tell you”
Our sister`s nose would turn bright red
A beacon, like Rudolphs, stuck onto her head!
And off she would go with a tale to our mum
And it was out of our lair for a jolly good smacked bum!

Sometimes, just sometimes, we d allow her to be
Under the stairs with us for biscuits and tea.
A picnic ambsosial sneaked to our lair
Each crumb watched like hawks to get a fair share.
Then check on our treasures in our own “usher box”
Have we been robbed? forced open our locks?
A black spell will fall on those stupid enough
To spy in my usher,or pinch any of my stuff!!

Those days are all gone now. My family all scattered.
But those growing up days, the ones that most mattered,
The days that will make you, the days that will mould,
The days that stay with you when you’re growing old
The days when my brothers and sisters and me
With the wind at our backs, ran joyfully free,
Live on in my memory, when I had no cares,
And weaved spells and made magic, under the stairs.




◄ Biting The Bullet

Uncle Ned ►


Profile image

Yvonne Brunton

Fri 4th May 2012 18:07

The way the rhythm flows freely and joyously is like the childhood you describe - ah I remember it well. I just never wrote about it.lovely.XX

Profile image

jane wilcock

Sat 12th Feb 2011 22:23

Thanks for your comments on Solar Energy, Cate, much appreciated. This is good. I had lots of dens and good friends too. I'm not sure whether a Wii and a mobile phone substitute for the exploration you describe, but then I'm not a child today so I couldn't say. The poem runs into the last verse wonderfully. Best, Jane

Profile image

chris yates

Fri 11th Feb 2011 13:20

You must have had a really happy childhood and so free and bossy with it, loved this poem it just brings back so many memories xx

<Deleted User> (7164)

Tue 1st Feb 2011 20:18

Just reading through the series of childhood entries and saw this.
It so reminds me of my own childhood Cate with several siblings to love and to fight with.

Loved it.x

Profile image

Lynn Dye

Sun 30th Jan 2011 10:50

Brilliant, Cate, you have really captured the wonder of childhood at play, and it is so well written. xx

Profile image


Fri 28th Jan 2011 21:07

Liked all of it from the alluring 'In a stony cold house, many years ago now Lived a family as happy as fate would allow' right to the end - well done

Profile image

Dave Bradley

Fri 28th Jan 2011 20:59

Terrific, Cate. Up there with 'Oor Olive's Pumps'. You really should write more.

Profile image


Fri 28th Jan 2011 20:32

What a magical story of childhood inventiveness!
I enjoyed reading this, Cate.

Profile image

John Coopey

Fri 28th Jan 2011 19:38

Really nice, Cate.
Especially enjoyed the last verse -I think the rhythm is at its strongest here.

Profile image

Elaine Booth

Fri 28th Jan 2011 18:49

A truly wonderful poem, Cate. It has such a feel-good vibe and whether it was always that good or not, how precious are such times, such memories. I do feel with my own family that this kind of imaginative play is lost too early in their short childhoods, which makes me sad. You evoke that longing for past days so beautifully and the rhyming couplets work superbly well - somehow just perfect for describing childhood.

Profile image


Fri 28th Jan 2011 18:36

As you know Cate, I have different memories of 'under the stairs' but I love your version. I think there is some selective memory going on here but it makes a wonderful change to hear something positive said about childhood. As children we really have no control over our lives so it is pretty much a lottery as to how well we come through it.
I love the way you have focussed on freedom. Those are my happiest memories of childhood - running free in the woods - running across the water pipes over the local reservoirs, even though I couldn't swim - how unthinkable would that be now? I remember us only coming home when it was dark or we were hungry. Small wonder there were not so many fat kids around then - we just burned all our food up. It was great for the imagination - which comes out vividly in your poem.
Lovely to see the art of rhyme still alive also. xx

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message