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The Dolly on the Dustcart -- Pam Ayres

Guest poem submitted by Trisha Gupta :
(Poem #1755) The Dolly on the Dustcart
 I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
 I can see you're not impressed,
 I'm fixed above the driver's cab,
 With wire across me chest,
 The dustman see, he noticed me,
 Going in the grinder,
 And he fixed me on the lorry,
 I dunno if that was kinder.

 This used to be a lovely dress,
 In pink and pretty shades,
 But it's torn now, being on the cart,
 And black as the ace of spades,
 There's dirt all round me face,
 And all across me rosy cheeks,
 Well, I've had me head thrown back,
 But we ain't had no rain for weeks.

 I used to be a 'Mama' doll,
 Tipped forward, I'd say, 'Mum'
 But the rain got in me squeaker,
 And now I been struck dumb,
 I had two lovely blue eyes,
 But out in the wind and weather,
 One's sunk back in me head like,
 And one's gone altogether.

 I'm not a soft, flesh coloured dolly,
 Modern children like so much,
 I'm one of those hard old dollies,
 What are very cold to touch,
 Modern dolly's underwear,
 Leaves me a bit nonplussed,
 I haven't got a bra,
 But then I haven't got a bust!

 But I was happy in that doll's house,
 I was happy as a Queen,
 I never knew that Tiny Tears,
 Was coming on the scene,
 I heard of dolls with hair that grew,
 And I was quite enthralled,
 Until I realised my head
 Was hard and pink... and bald.

 So I travel with the rubbish,
 Out of fashion, out of style,
 Out of me environment,
 For mile after mile,
 No longer prized... dustbinised!
 Unfeminine, Untidy,
 I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
 And there's no collection Friday.
-- Pam Ayres
I've loved this poem since I first read it at age 11 or so. Though my memory
of it was triggered by reading 'Clockwork Doll' which just appeared on the
list, Dolly on the Dustcart is certainly less sombre - and is almost
unfailingly categorised as a "children's poem".

And it does have the most amazing read-aloud quality: such as
        "The dustman see, he noticed me,
         Going in the grinder,
         And he fixed me on the lorry,
         I dunno if that was kinder."

But as I looked at again today after many years, I realized again why its
self-deprecatory tone has always seemed to me to be more than simply
hilarious. It combines a charming naivete with a sort of wry, post-facto
resignation... as for
example in
        "I heard of dolls with hair that grew,
         And I was quite enthralled,
         Until I realised my head
         Was hard and pink... and bald."

On the whole, I think, the poem serves rather well as a sharp and funny
comment on the whole femininity thing.

Trisha

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Wendy Woodford said...

Hello All,
I am in Australia, I was watching a show called QI with Stephen Fry, I heard a voice that was very familiar to me, I looked up and suddenly I see her face and say "I'm the Dolly in the Dustbin".
Now I am aware I got the name of the poem wrong (my apologies)
However it was not so much about the name of the poem, It was more about the memory of the poem.
I remember hearing the "Dolly on the Dustcart" on a record my mother had, when I was a child and it made me cry.
Poor Dolly :(
Thank You Pam xxoo

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