Mateus Rose Years

He wore a faded white cheesecloth shirt
She preferred the same in blue
They both wore wall-to-wall flared jeans
As was the thing to do
She played Cat Stevens and Carly Simon
With a dash of Lindisfarne
He strummed his 12 stringed Yamaha
She sometimes sang along

They bought posters from Athena
To hide damp stains on the wall
And instamatic photographs
Were clip-framed in the hall
A rented telly and a scented candle
As was the current craze
A warm glow from the gas fire
Lit up those Mateus Rose days

With Vesta curries and wholemeal loaves
Instant coffee or Earl Grey Tea
They thrived as cheaply as they could
Living cut-price but carefree
Southern Comfort on special occasions
When they had extra cash to blow
And when they finally got engaged
They splashed out at the local bistro

They sometimes drank Newcastle Brown
Or Liebfraumilch if labelled Blue Nun
And they made their plans together
For the years that were yet to come
The future stretched before them
In so very many ways
Their options seemed unlimited
In those Mateus Rose days

Illustrated mirrors, second hand clothes
With makeshift this and that
No sign of greed or opulence
It was not where they were at
Bits and bobs from jumble sales
Stuff from the charity store
But they had all they needed
And did not ask for more

After the pub on Friday nights
They would stroll across a field
Planning trips to sun-drenched places
In a painted dormobile
Standing by the bus shelter
Into her eyes he’d gaze
And make big plans for the future
In those Mateus Rose days

They would get their qualifications
Perhaps teach for a year or so
He would finish off that novel
Just in time for them to go
They would travel the world over
In a psychedelic camper van
Write their songs and play guitar
And settle in a foreign land
Life would be lived to the absolute full
An everlasting, golden phase
They planned it down to the last detail
In those Mateus Rose days

Four children came so quickly
As the years went down the pan
The last one affected by Down’s syndrome
But they do the best they can
Meticulous plans were altered
He is a dedicated deputy
Engulfed by administration
In an inner-city primary

Sometimes she does supply work
The odd day here and there
The money comes in handy
Who said that life was fair?
She does her bit for a better world
She runs a Fair Trade stall
And he commuted by bicycle
Until he had that fall

There’s no use in complaining
It never was their style
They are better off than many
And often crack a smile
Sometimes it seems hard going
And her eyes fill up with tears
When she hears a song by Lindisfarne
From those Mateus Rose years

Richard Raftery