The Story of Mary I


This is the story of Mary I,

Who made her mark in Malahide

When she had hardly any weight

Way back in nineteen forty eight.


No one had ever seen the like,

(and that’s before she rode a bike)

Two hundred cousins all agreed

The family now was up to speed.


With mum and dad away at work

Aunties and grannie did not shirk

The task of moulding this favourite child

Into humanity’s sweetest and mild.


This idyll was rudely shattered

By emigration to mud-bespattered

Brixton, where she went to school

And learnt to be un-Irish by rule.


Meanwhile mum and dad were busy

Moving house till they were dizzy,

But they found time for a family to forge

With sister Shirl and brother George.


Mary fell in love with learning

Even though her heart was yearning

For her grannie, left behind in Eire.

She’d imagine a tunnel to get her there.


Off to college on the one nine four

Then surprise, surprise - John was born;

Studying Divinity and English Lit,

This didn’t surprise her one little bit.


Graduation, then time to teach

Children in primary school, who each

Had a tale to tell to Mary I;

She would listen and wonder why.


Sidney and she became soulmates,

Then flatmates, and finally housemates.

All this mating produced little Julie,

Much loved by Mary, and by yours truly.


Every summer we joined in the fun

When the holidays had begun,

Riding our bikes all the way to Paddington

(which is miles away from Addington).


Bike and tandem on the train

Going straight into the Cornish rain

To Penzance, Falmouth or St Erth;

Of stations in Coverack, there’s a dearth.


Julie became a back-seat driver

On cycling trips that cost a fiver;

Mary rode her ‘Don Louis’ bike

Ready to sprint past any tyke.


Then she pulled off the perfect double

and Ruby was born without any trouble.

The house in Catford began to feel small,

But Mary never complained at all.


She just happened to notice another

Couldn’t afford it? That’s no bother.

Ruby said “car” - we all agreed

And put the bikes on for extra speed.


Now we motored down to Coverack

And made our own way to the Minack.

Mary always kept us well refreshed

With drinks, bananas and the rest.


She started working at the pru

With students not allowed in school.

Originally planned as home tuition

Alas, it didn’t come to fruition.


Not having quite enough to do

She thought “It’s time for the OU”,

She studied art and then psychology

With a little bit of brain biology.


Now she’s working at St Pauls

As a steward, time often crawls.

She not infequently gets quite high

Up on the dome, near the sky.


Like an angel she’s found her place,

And we are in a state of grace

Through being with her in every way.

Especially on the phone each day.


Thanks for listening to my tale.

I am each day, without fail,

Profoundly glad, for this is my

Good fortune - loving Mary I.


Sidney Schuman

January 2008