Tiddlers and Devil's Toenails

By the ford on Devon Lane

By Sue Mackrell, 2007

A tranquil scene at the ford where Rectory Lane crosses the River Devon: sheep grazing on a sunlit afternoon | Bottesord Local History Society archive
A tranquil scene at the ford where Rectory Lane crosses the River Devon
Bottesord Local History Society archive

Minnows, sticklebacks,
Tiddlers, we used to call them,
Brown stripes and red bellies,
Except you didn’t say “bellies,”
It was rude.

Finding a Devil’s Toenail
On the sandbank,
Scarey, ‘cos it was really the devil’s you know.
Though he must have had a lot of toes.

And in the spring, tadpoles,
A net on a long pole, a jam-jar,
Or if you were lucky,
A plastic bucket from Skeggy
Red, a bit faded, with a thin yellow handle.

Wellingtons half way up skinny legs to scabby knees,
Or old black plimsoles, too small,
With the toes cut out,
The ones with elastic
‘CosĀ  you couldn’t do laces,
And they squelched and made farty noises,
Except you didn’t say “farty,”
Or bare-foot, slipping on hard smooth pebbles,
Gingerly hopping, one foot to the other.

And if you were going to make a day of it,
Warm orange squash in a plastic bottle,
And jam sandwiches in greaseproof paper

This page was added on 19/09/2007.

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