For the school dance I wore a circular skirt --
full length, and a full-circle swirl of apple green;
I bought the pattern; my mother made the frock.
But what to do with my hair: so little-girlish,
too long? Auntie Phil came up with a green snood
and an Alice-band on which (her brainwave)
she pinned sprigs of daphne -- most waxen-petalled,
extravagantly-scented of real flowers,
from the bush by our door -- to intoxicate,
as it turned out, my classmate Dell's very tall
brother Ken, who danced with me all evening,
his nose hovering above the honeyed wafts.
After my friends' lunchtime coaching in the gym
I managed the quicksteps and foxtrots all right,
even in gold sandals (we all wore gold sandals).
As for underneath, I'd been given no option:
Phil and my mother had tracked down in some shop
a pair of kneelength, scratchy woollen drawers
to protect my kidneys from chills, they insisted.
I was too naive to see at the time
what it was they really wanted to guard.
published in 'The Spectator' 4 October 2008