Thursday, December 05, 2013

Home for Christmas? 5

Home, sweet home? Reflecting on our experiences of home

Charles Causley's poem, "Timothy Winters" is based on a real child whom he knew. It is easy to idealise home, but for many it is far from the cosy place of safety it should be.

'Timothy Winters'

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football-pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation-mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won't hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the pattern off his plate
And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kithen floor
And they say there aren't boys like him anymore.

Old Man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier,
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

The welfare Worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
for children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

So come one angel, come on ten
Timothy Winters says "Amen
Amen amen amen amen."
Timothy Winters, Lord. Amen

Charles Causley   (1917-2003)

  • Does this poem remind you of children you have known, or of your own childhood?
  • What could we do to make childhood happy for those around us in our families and neighbourhoods?
  • What do children really need to have a good childhood?
  • Pray for those who deal professionally with children growing up in abusive or neglectful homes - social workers, health professionals, school staff and children's charities. In the midst of chaotic situations they are often called on to make very difficult judgements, and know that there may be very serious consequences if they get it wrong. 

The traditional lullaby "Hush little Baby" is the song of a parent who wants to  give their child the best they can, but we sense in the song that the extravagant gifts they would like to provide may be out of reach. Love, though, can be freely given, and this child is always going to be rich in it.


  1. Molehil8:29 am

    I had never come across this poem before but it reiterates all I had , and have, to be thankful for. We as a family did not have very much in the material sense, growing up in the 1950s, but we had a home which was rich in love- something that I feel is worth its weight in gold. Thanks Anne for this series - I am finding it really enjoyable and though-provoking.

  2. Thank you - I'm glad you are finding food for thought. I love Charles Causley's poetry, and this one is a favourite.