Weeds grow where they want to; not where they're told to...


Two chap-books by Angela Topping

The Lightfoot Letters are remarkable historical documents which offer a detailed portrait of working class life in 1923. They appear here in print for the first time, with the original spelling, grammar and punctuation intact, accompanied by Angela Topping’s poems.



The Fiddle


Words are trip-wires, their sudden consonants

tease, bring shame. Fingers fumble too,

trying to write or draw with left hand tied.


Trapped music sings in his head. At last

he begs piano lessons. Fingers, stretched,

find tunes by pressing tacky ivory.


But not for long. Cash goes on uniforms.

not for him, kept home to wash and press,

while others go to grammar school.


His first job, farm labourer, pays turnips, spuds.

Not till trainee grocer can he earn enough

to buy a violin, and cradle it, and stroke its wood.


Unlatching the back gate one day, he finds

kid brother scoring goals, the violin

a tangle of strings booted up the yard.




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The Demon in the Cupboard under the Sink


…lives on bleach and fairy liquid;

wishes he could get the real thing.

Meantime the juice will have to do

although it makes him burp bubbles.


…makes his bed in sticky old dusters

and Brasso wadding. He likes that:

it smells of home and makes him

feel safe and snug as he cuddles down.


… hides among bottles and shoe polish

dreaming of days when he could scare,

the time he had that great job, guarding

the King’s treasure at Beeston Castle.


They put his portrait on churches then.

Now he’s no-one, no-one believes in him.

He trembles behind the clothes pegs.

‘It’s not like the old days’, he says.







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