I photographed this poster prominently displayed in the forrard window of a motor cruiser moored at the mouth of a river on the east coast of Kent, England, in 2009. For those who are unable to decipher the wording on the poster, I quote it here . . .
WANTED GOOD WOMAN Must Be Able to Clean Cook, Sew, Dig Worms and Clean Fish Must Have Boat and Motor ALSO SEND PICTURE OF BOAT AND MOTOR
The, presumably tongue-in-cheek, audacity prompted me to write the verses below ...
Wanted! A Good Woman
Wanted! A pliant good woman A sturdy strapping lass; Content to be a willing wife – One of the servile class.
Someone to meet my every need, Allow me my own space; Clean my house, cook. sew and dig And do it with good grace.
My priorities must be upheld; I need no self-willed martyr Who’ll bicker and demand a fee Each time I tweak her garter.
A bit of brass, willing to share, That would not go amiss; I’d give you pocket money too And from time to time a kiss.
A woman’s lot is never done I know that’s what they say, But after all is said and done It’ll be worth it for the pay.
You’ll get a home with bed and board, With a kind, considerate master. What else in life could a lady ask When all else now has passed her?
And so to sum up my request, I need a loving spouse, A soul-mate made to serve my needs, And good about the house.
Someone to moderate my charms, To make me less unfeeling … … I don’t know why but no one yet Has found my job appealing.
Did I ever kiss you in those halcyon days of old? did I ever hold you in my arms whisper to your ear? or say I want you so?
It didn’t happen then did it? It could have but it didn’t such a wasted moment such a forfeited life
What I know now, but didn’t then you were there waiting for me seeking a glimpse of recognition or even a nod to your very existence
What I feel now was not an option It was outside my ken then barely a glance away no more than a word away but a whole world away from mine or so I thought thoughtlessly
I could have taken that other path the road not taken into that parallel world that alternative reality the sliding door into another future but I chose differently unconsciously I didn’t know didn’t even consider that there might be that there was an alternative then
But In my ignorance in my indifference you left and I demurred
For you then
I know now there was a pain a hurt un-mended unintended
So I departed to a separate future itself now discarded this time for you
So long ago nothing then now is everything
Oh if I had spoken then broken that ice to find that different future
grasped at chance and fused we two together embarked on life’s unwavering path with hope that all that came to pass would prove to be life’s key its answer to failure
But would that alternative that re-positioned love have lasted long and still been fresh and sunny after a lifetime together
Or would it then would it have palled just been repeated on another plane and left us where we are now cold dispassionate and turning to another for succour
Or perhaps are both lives being lived right now co-existing in their own space along with all those other choices I did not make?
Uncertain amidst uncertainty there is a certainty
That time pleases no one history wins and history is the truth It has to be the truth for us when we ourselves have lived it however many histories there are
When we have loved not loved then re-discovered love we must somewhere have experienced the truth a life which we can take shared
Into the future
Perhaps this is it now so much better than what happened
# # #
But I believe at the time of their making our choices were the right ones only later in another life did they become the wrong ones
Nothing is pre-ordained that cannot be circumvented neither is anything unequivocal or absolute
So many possibilities so many doors to choose from countless ‘what ifs’ perhaps the order in which we choose matters not
Only the life that is being lived now
Or … THEN
The lead-in illustration is by George Boyce (geebee2007 / flickr.com) is for Philip Pullman’s book ‘The Golden Compass’, the first of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, currently being prepared for filming by BBC TV. The trilogy follows the story of two children, Lyra and Will, as they wander through a series of parallel universes.
Author’s note: I am aware that ‘Alternate Reality’ seems to be used more often than ‘Alternative Reality’, which I nevertheless think is logically the more correct way of describing this concept.