The March of Progress


In the absence of a Susie Cooper plate, this Clarice Cliff bowl will have to do!

This plastic film
is dangerous —
suddenly after all these years
the experts say.
But wait —
in order to allay our fears and cheer us up
here’s what to do about it:
put the food into a bowl
and cover it with a saucer…
Well I never did! Oh my!
The March of Progress.
I can see my mother
putting that Susie Cooper plate
on top of a half-eaten jelly
in that orange and green fruit bowl.
I can see her quite clearly
and that was 1938.

Charlotte Mitchell

Another of my favourite poems… partly because it sums up our modern world and partly because it mentions Susie Cooper, an Art Deco potter working at the same time as my great aunt, Clarice Cliff.

Like previous poems I have quoted, this is with the permission of Candy Guard, Charlotte Mitchell’s daughter, and is from Just In Case: Poems in my Pocket  published by Souvenir Press, 1991 ISBN 0285630601. Currently out of print, but available secondhand from Amazon.

Leave a comment


  1. Reblogged this on Cambridge Aromatherapy and Massage and commented:
    As Jan says it sums up so much of modern life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And how cool is the Butter Ball thing at Chez Snail? Cool enough to keep butter from going off with no electricity in sight, that’s how cool! Progress doesn’t know where it’s going, but it ought to remember where it has been! 🙂


  3. You are related to Clarice Cliff ???!!! Wow! Do you have lots of her gorgeous china? Love that poem 🙂


    • Yes, I am… I did know her when I was a little girl. I only have a couple of pieces – they were never particularly valued by the family because they were just ‘Aunty Clarice’s pots’!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh how lovely! I have always loved her China. As a child I was totally in love with the pretty China in my Great Aunt’s cabinet. She had some Shelley, but no Clarice Cliff. She did have some Coalport (is that what I mean I wonder? The green ones like lettuce leaves)
        She left it to me in her will, all the China.


  4. nettyg

     /  February 1, 2016

    I’m a little the same….forget the plastic wrap….you’re related to Clarice Clift? ( awed and hushed tones) I don’t have any of her china but have loved her work for years. No wonder you’re so creative, it runs in the family. I haven’t bought cling wrap for years, I have a few bee wraps I was given, but mostly use that ,’new fangled idea’, a saucer on top of a bowl.


  5. That’s a great poem Jan! However I have to leap to the defense of cling film….. it is simply the best thing going for making really pretty and random painted backgrounds. Lay down two or three colours, place cling film over and gently scrunch it up and around, just a little, and then lift off. Leave the painted paper to dry. 🙂

    Your families familiarity with Clarice Cliff’s work is pretty typical of how an artist is ignored on their own patch and in their own life time 🙂


  6. I think I have a roll of cling film somewhere in the back of a cupboard, unused. The bowl and plate or saucer is so much more practical, for the simple reason that *you can put something else on top*, unlike cling film. Since our fridge contents are a good 25% leftovers waiting to be turned into something else, this is a consideration! Your Auntie Clarice did beautiful work – I think you’ve mentioned the connection before somewhere, but I forget the subject of the earlier post.


    • I don’t think I have any cling film any more…. I really could never get the hang of it, although someone told me last week that it’s good for poaching eggs in.


      • I don’t think I like the idea of food in direct contact with hot cling film. I use little flexible silicone cups called Poachies, which are washable and do an excellent job!


  7. We use those silicone poach pods as well. Aren’t they terrific? Perfect poached eggs every time.

    That’s a great poem.



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