In London I lost myself,
my shyness, inhibitions, the stupid
town that held me back. I lost my past,
the teeth knocked out of my mouth so fast
by bored brats who smoked too much weed,
suburban anti-artists will never succeed.
In London I lost my luggage,
that invisible weight I carried on my shoulders,
I lost the hatred that ran in my veins,
I remember reading M.K Gandhi on trains,
thinking this world’s not always insane,
suffering leads to inspiration again.
In London I found my voice,
while hundreds of people passed me by,
on the pavement outside Angel tube station,
freezing winter days were my revelation.
In London I found my song,
the African drum that goes on and on.
In London parks I walked alone,
from Oxford Street to Chalk Farm home,
I cried on a park bench in Golders Green,
my friends, my family, my life unseen.
It was all too little, it was all too much,
So long London, (I’ll be in touch).
Bedtime Story, 1984
I sat on the carpet,
next to the coffee table,
eating a bag of chips,
dipping them into red sauce.
The TV was blaring,
the BBC 6’O Clock News,
when an Ethiopian child stared at me,
with flies buzzing around his/her head.
Its belly blown up like a balloon,
the eyes – an unfamiliar glare,
a misery inhuman,
from a distant, desert planet.
Not everyone has food,
not everyone has clothes.
A child was dying,
before Top of the Pops.
On a Thursday night,
I was glued to the TV eye,
out of an infantile hunger,
rather than adult apathy.
I, was a child,
My questions were simple.
It may not have been real,
yet I was five years old.
How easy it was,
back then, eating chips.
That red sauce tasted good,
before I saw the news.
Slipping past the passers-by,
Sliding through the gate,
Round the corner and down the stairs,
He is London’s smoothest snake.
Never touching, never talking,
But always on the move,
This creature of the underground
Is instinctively in tune.
Like a 21st-century pickpocket,
He disappears onto trains,
From Leytonstone to Richmond
These tubes are in his veins.
He overtakes the suitcase
He swerves past the slugs,
The advertising billboards,
The multimedia drugs.
And when he finally rests
To close his eyes to sleep,
His mind is still racing,
So he starts counting sheep.
Ode to the Humble Chip
O beauty upon beauty,
chip upon chip,
some crispy, some soggy,
all soaked in vinegar,
to the bottom
of the cone.
I would eat you
every day but
Trapped in a village of bungalows,
I went down to where the muddy Crouch flows,
and listened to the bells of the moored boats,
without a friend, without a hope.
Across the river, a farm on the marsh,
All this emptiness can be harsh.
I never felt at home in my home town,
Music and scribbles were my playground.