Arriving at 10.30 a.m Spewed forth from smoke into smoke, The seemingly endless walk down Villiers Street Gateway to a thousand hopes, Death row of a thousand dreams. The dirty station buffet The lazy coloured cleaner The images of the rich Mingling with the realities of the poor London in the sixties, London of my youth, London of a starry eyed eight year old. Guest house rooms with wash basins. Do I really have to eat the mushrooms? Can we go to Trafalgar Square today Or shall we leave it until tomorrow? Battersea Pleasure Beach A short boat trip across the Thames A coke and a packet of crisps At the end of a long and happy day. Images of lovers embracing on a bridge, My first images of death. Death to an eight year old Is sinister but so real Dark balmy end of August nights Which lead into tomorrow. Can we go to Trafalgar Square today Or shall we leave it until next year?
Thirty years on And I bring my own sons to the capital. Villiers Street is being developed And I still have indigestion from the congestion. The station buffet is spotless But characterless in its cleanliness. There are no cleaners They come out at night Yesterday there was a bomb alert, Today just suspicion and mistrust. The images of the rich Are destroyed by the realities of the poor. London in the nineties London of my children's youth London of starry eyed eight year olds. They eat the mushrooms without questioning They still ask for Trafalgar Square, I prefer the National Gallery. Battersea Pleasure Beach has been destroyed, A dream driven into the sea, No big dipper, no water splash. The lovers no longer embrace. Now in their fifties They sit and bicker Saddened and made cynical by life and each other. Light, balmy end of June nights Cutting through the filth and squalor. Can we go to Trafalgar Square today It might not be there next year.
© Peter Steward 2000