The Old Places

Here’s the latest of the my Saturday Live poems from Saturday 23rd November. It’s based on a feature by John McCarthy. John visited a bunch of places in London that used to be landmarks but are no longer there. It made me think of the places we went as teenagers that we’ve lost already and just how many places must be like that for my parents’ generation.

The places they went are:

http://www.eustonarch.org/

http://oldlondonbridge.com/history.shtml

http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/Environment/ParksGreenSpaces/Parks/VauxhallPleasureGardens.htm

http://www.vauxhallcityfarm.org/

http://www.batterseafunfair.co.uk/

http://www.joylandbooks.com/themagiceye/articles/indreamland.htm

Here’s the poem, the Queen mentioned, btw, is Eleannor of Aquitaine. She’s the “My Fair Lady” in The London Bridge song.

The Old Places

To think that squat, stark station had an arch
a grand old thing in ancient Yorkshire stone,
another crime to pin on Ernest Marples,
that swine who armed old Beeching to the teeth.

And what I wouldn’t give to stagger past
the squabbling houses clustered on the bridge.
Their taxes squandered by the spendthrift Queen,
they weathered Thames, rebellion and fire.

Or take a hackney carriage down to Vauxhall:
pocket-watch and curly chops to wander
with Miss Bennett on my arm. Our pleasure
closely studied by her maiden aunt.

Then in a cab to Battersea’s lost fun fair
candyfloss and flares and floppy-hair.
The last hurrah of 1951
half-crumbling in instamatic sun.

The Odeon in my home town is rotting,
the pubs we killed our Winters in are Tescos,
the clearing where we fumbled one July
is lost to silent boxy Barratt Homes.

The places where we made ourselves are changing
just as they changed for those who came before.
In time we’re all just sediment and silt
but pictures, sounds and words will linger on.

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