A Week Away: A Warning to Wives [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

A Week Away.

A Warning to Wives.

“I’m going down to Harbortown; I’ll be a week away,”
Said Mrs. Nib to Mr. Nib a month ago to-day.
“I think I’ll take the boy with me; he’s got his holidays,
They’ll take us in at Tuckerville, where Auntie always stays.
There isn’t much to keep me here; you’ll stay and mind the house,
If I left the youngster here with you, you’d only roar and rouse.
And don’t go getting groggy now, and don’t go going gay,
I’ll catch the train to-morrow, and I’ll be a week away.”

“Be certain now,” said Mrs. Nib, “to have your cup of tea
Every morning when the milkman comes, and don’t go on the spree.
Take a cottage from the baker, get some butter from the shop,
And you’ve always got the gas-stove if you want to grill a chop.
Don’t go mucking round at midnight with those greasy fish and chips,
And don’t have Soaker coming round for early-morning nips.
When the cat has had her kittens, put her in a box of hay,”
Said Mrs. Nib to Mr. Nib a month ago today!

She left him full instructions how to shake and make his bed,
How to water all the pot-plants and to keep the cocky fed.
“Get your groceries at the corner, keep the sugar from the ants;
And be sure to change your singlet when you change your underpants.
If you want a bit of dripping Mrs. Mack will give you some,
And don’t leave crayfish lying round until it starts to hum.
And be sure to tell the landlord that the cistern has a leak,
And tell the fish-oh not to call until about a week.”

“Man proposes, God disposes,” someone said in ancient rhymes,
But woman takes the place of God in these assertive times;
And Nib kept batching, batching, and the dreary days ran on,
And his spouse was still located in the spot where she had gone.
In a week he’d got the saucepans where the crockery should be;
He’d forgot to empt the leaves out when he made a cup of tea.
There were marks upon the table where the frying-pan he’d placed,
And a fortnight found the whole caboose a wilderness of waste.

He’d forget to put the milk-jug out — that woke him up at six;
He dried the cups and dishes on his son’s discarded knicks.
The cat mislaid her kittens in the wife’s own glory-box,
While his favourite kettle-holder was his own neglected sox.
He rarely read the paper, so it blew about the lawn;
The hue of his pyjamas raised the neighbourhood to scorn.
He burnt some hashmagandy in his wife’s enamelled ware;
The scraps beneath the sofa any cannibal would scare.

The dining-table bore the stains of many a morning’s milk,
He wrapped a block of ice he bought in Madam’s tussore silk.
The potato peelings choked the drain, a schnapper he’d forgot
Hummed from Saturday ’til Monday love’s sweet song — Forget Me Not!
The gas bills were gargantuan; two saucepans he forgot
When he went to see the price of Trixie in the Tradesman’s Trot.
And as he also watched three races (posted at the pub)
The noses of the neighbourhood were full of ruined grub.

Three weary weeks, and then a fourth, and Madam homeward trained,
While Nib got very busy with the dwelling tucker-stained.
With a cobber and two neighbours he evicted all the dirt,
Boiled his singlet and pyjamas, soaked his sox, and swilled his shirt.
Now he reads the morning paper with his morning cup of tea;
No more the evening sheet reposes ’neath the pepper-tree.
He has paid the double gas-bill, but when next she skips the mat
Someone else can be a wet-nurse to the cockatoo and cat!

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 16-18

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 8 January 1922, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
cottage = cottage loaf; a loaf of bread consisting of two round loaves cooked on top of each other, the smaller one being placed on top of the larger one

empt = empty (containing nothing; without contents); to empty (to discharge contents)

fish-oh = fishmonger

grub = food

hashmagandy = a stew made from a variety of ingredients, comprised of whatever meat and vegetables are available; may also refer to tinned stew (such as the tinned meals issued to soldiers during World War One)

hum = reek, regarding something that emits an unpleasant smell

rouse = (slang) get angry, lose one’s temper; rebuke, scold, tell off

sox = an alternative spelling for “socks” (plural of sock)

tucker = food

tussore = tussore silk; a coarse silk fabric made from the larvae of tussore moths and related moths (also spelt “tussah”)

whole caboose = everything, the whole lot

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