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Philippa Lawrence (1938-2015)      about Philippa      back to Philippa's page



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The Cashmere Jumper               In Defence of Men

         Old Hands           In Memoriam


The Cashmere Jumper


My memory nestles up

to a classic sage-green cashmere jumper

from better days, pre-War —

twenty seven and sixpence from Harrods —

matted; neck and wrists stretched;

sleeves baggy and creased

after tight rolling up to hide

the unmendable holes in the elbows

and keep cuffs out of the stew pot.

The silk-fine wool smelt faintly of cooking

and Elizabeth Arden face powder.


Before decay took hold

the jumper clung to my mother’s

Margaret Lockwood bosom,

brushed by the dark hair I loved

to tangle my fingers in —

a cuddlesome baby’s pillow.

Later it sagged loose; felted;

all elasticity washed away;

a grey bloom over the clear colour.


Those comforting cashmere Downs

will always be a gentle presence

in my memory’s wardrobe

though the jumper

and my mother’s youthful,

kitten softness and kindness

are long gone, recollections

of my first four years.



Philippa Lawrence

published in Wessex Poets 6, 1994,

(under title From Memory's Wardrobe);

in pamphlet collection, From Memory's Wardrobe, 2009,

Buff Press, ISBN 978-0-9560658-1-0




In Defence of Men


We were made like this

by our creator to create,

so don’t take the piss

or berate:

we were programmed to propagate

the species,

continue the line

from the beginning of time.


We had to turn on easily,

not  look queasily

at Neanderthal Woman, no beauty,

and do our duty.

If we’d had to wait for a Marilyn Monroe

humans beings would have been extinct aeons ago.


Now, as Douglas Adams said,

our bodies have been out-civilised by our heads

which should rule out lust

and fill us with disgust

at ourselves — cave man specimens.

We need self-discipline

to get the urge beaten:

cold showers at Eton

to douse our longings for a spree;

and bromide in the NAAFI tea.


To club women and drag them to our lair

by the hair

is not enough —

we must do all sorts of other stuff,

and still risk snubs.

We take them to dinner, theatres, clubs;

produce flowers, flattering rhyme;

a Hallmark Valentine;

or a chocolate treat

then lay at their feet

the millions we are expected to make in the City.

We deserve pity

for on top of this they

want to join the Garrick Club, play

and hunt with us, hare with hound,

on even ground.


But, you know,

most of them aren’t Marilyn Monroe

and we hold the key,

could about face,

do a Lysistrata in reverse

and, with a last lewd curse

end the human race.

Now do you see?           



Philippa Lawrence

published in South 19, May 1999, ISSN 0959-1133



Old Hands


My hands are worse this winter,

gnarled and sprinkled with age spots;

the nails are ridged and flaking;

rings trapped by my knuckles’ knots.


I cannot pull my tights up

so wear short johns and knee highs;

front buttoned dresses, cardies,

trews and skirts with zipping flies.


That thing for putting socks on

was a useless waste of cash

like the jam jar opener

which gave me a nasty gash.


My hands unfurl painfully

curled up in a fake fur muff:

retired from the keyboard,

these poor claws have had enough.




(This won a prize in a competition for which we were given the

first line — it is not, happily, true except about the nails and rings.)


Philippa Lawrence

published in The Oldie, July 2009;

in pamphlet collection, From Memory's Wardrobe, 2009,

Buff Press, ISBN 978-0-9560658-1-0



In Memoriam




Now I can use the computer

to print out the W.I. minutes,

and my novel;

stay overnight with Marion in London;

eat what I like when I like

and not have to…




Now I can build

a clock golf course on the lawn

for the grandchildren;

have old Bob to stay;

eat what I like when I like

and not have to…



Philippa Lawrence

2nd Prize, Southern Daily Echo Comic Poem Competition, 2002 and

published in Southern Daily Echo (with profile and photograph);

broadcast in English & Romanian translation, 2008,

National Broadcasting Corporation, Romania


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