Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

North Oxford goes west
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The ladies of North Oxford
Are no longer shabby tabbies,
They are mini-skirted lovelies
With a taste for modern fun;
The enjoy their weekly beano
At the Summertown casino,
With a flutter on the chemmy
And a fling at vingt-et-un.

The ladies of North Oxford
Are no longer stolid scholars,
They are dashing, dilettante
And unwearyingly bright;
No more the well-starched bodices
Can harbour Sanskrit codices -
Their floating chiffon blouses are
Transparent as the light.

The ladies of North Oxford
Are no longer tea-cup tattlers,
For they like refreshment often
And they like their liquor hard;
They eat and drink in snatches
Between heroin and hashish,
They are flowery, happy, hippy
And most avant-avant-garde.

The ladies of North Oxford
Are no longer torrid Tories,
Nor sweetly sentimental,
Nor a bromide, nor a bore:
Gone are their old traditions,
They have slain their inhibitions -
For the ladies of North Oxford
Are not ladies any more.


The Oxford Times reported that members of the North Oxford Residents' Association wanted to change the 'false image' of North Oxford, which was popularly supposed to be a district of large Victorian houses inhabited by old-fashioned ladies of leisure.

Oxford Times, 22 March 1968
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983