Wednesday, September 15, 2021

RAG AND BONE MAN: THE LAST ITEM


Last week I posted some items about Rag and Bone Men, the men from bygone days who travelled the streets of London and surrounds collecting old and thrown out clothing, bones (various uses) and equipment in the hope of making a shilling by selling same.

Those wishing to read some recollections of those days can do so by clicking on a piece by Sandra Cook at:

Well worth a read.

In this Bytes post, the last instalment on the topic, is a poem by someone known only as Jenny, from her website “My Poetic Side”, at:

Her mention of goldfish was to the practice of the rag and bone man giving a goldfish to those who gave him goods, which Sandra Cook says was mostly rejected – the goldfish would only die the next day anyway.

I remember when I was a little girl
And the Rag and Bone man came round
On his cart pulled by a horse
All manner of things could be found
A washing machine with a broken ringer
And a bicycle without a wheel
He used to give my grandma two pence
For a bag of meat bones leftover from a meal
The bones were used for knife handles
And the grease extracted used to make soap
We’d give them to him in a potato sack
Tied around the top with a piece of rope
I remember one day the ragman
Knelt down on the ground
Searching between the paving stones
Where horseshoe nails could be found
Over his tired shoulders
He would carry a small bag
It would contain bones and various metals
Plus numerous pieces of coloured rag
One of the ragmen who came to our street
His name was Henry Moon
If we gave him something for his cart
We were rewarded with a goldfish or a balloon
It was a hard life being a ragman
People now wouldn’t see the sense
In working from early morning till night
For the measly sum of six pence
You still see rag and bone men about
No longer with a horse-drawn cart
Driving around in short wheel-base lorries
They have scrap collecting down to a fine art
They still pick up broken washing machines
And bicycles without a wheel
But some people still prefer to fly-tip
Dumping unwanted items in a field
We live in a throwaway society
No longer reliant on Mr Rag and Bone
It’s easy to get rid of scrap items
We just need to pick up the phone

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