Married in 1948. I had
the most exquisite nightdress, sort of like
a Greek goddess, and dressing gown to match.
They were the loveliest things I’d ever owned.
During the weeks before the wedding I’d
unwrap them from their tissue paper, hold
them up against myself and slowly sway
a sideways figure-of-eight. Didn’t have
a full length looking glass and didn’t dare
steal to my parents’ room to look in theirs.
We went away on honeymoon, the boat
to France and then by train to Switzerland.
I hadn’t brought enough to read. A kind
lady lent me a silly magazine:
the actress Lana Turner, 28,
was married for the fourth time, her trousseau
reported to have cost ten thousand pounds.
I gazed out of the window doing sums,
how many pairs of stockings must she have?
how many nightdresses and dressing gowns?
My husband hadn’t long been back from war
and – sort of totally exhausted – so
he slept a lot, in the warm weather. Well,
and I was very bored. But luckily,
luckily in this little Swiss hotel
there were a few English books. I was so
pleased to have them. I’d have read anything
(always somebody worse off than you
in a Thomas Hardy). Nobody says,
pack enough books to last the honeymoon.
Eleanor Brown 2015
In memory of Jocelyn Wilson 1926-2015