Stood by a streetcar stop a just few minutes walk from the shores of Lake Ontario
A honey-coated summer evening, light and humming with warmth
I checked my watch only for the vaults of personal history
To suddenly remind of once living
In hearing distance of Big Ben

I didn’t start there, originally further south
The first house lived in just round the corner from
Tooting Broadway tube
The one made iconic by TV’s Wolfie Smith raising his fist
And shouting his wish of ‘Power to the People
At the beginning of Citizen Smith

Then even further south we went
Right to London’s edge
Where it kisses Croydon
For the most part my early years
Were spent hanging round the Whitgift

It was always surreal to see Wolfie emerging on TV
Into a place once familiar then suddenly seeming so far
I went back, sure; for work; for fun; maybe to just pass through
But never to live again like it used to somehow
Always seem I would

Truthfully, despite the tender age, it pulled hard
Time has a habit of ebbing
The row of shops opposite Wolfie’s declaration
A hip n’ happening mini-skirted destination
The Chelsea Girl boutique
Total chic
Nightclubs like The Cat’s Whiskers not too far away
Swinging Sixties clinging to flaring Seventies
A mind’s eye photo slowly fading
As all the shops started changing

If Wolfie had taken a left, walked the other way, he would’ve passed my first dentist instead

It must be close to twenty years since even passing through
When first leaving London for the West Country, I didn’t go say goodbye
It was never the place I missed, but the time

Though before getting too ooh-arr carried away
There were all the years at the Elephant and Castle
(stick it up your arsehole!)
Right bang in the middle of the triangle it forms
With Camberwell Green and the poshy-posh cricket ground
At the Oval
A three-sided tapestry of some streets quite nice
While most parts belly of the beast

Perhaps that was just the time, not the place

South of the River true, but I could hear Ben there
Late at night when stood on the balcony
Could hear them ring out, clear as a . . .
Maybe ten, eleven if quiet enough
So more likely the twelve strikes of midnight
. . . Or the harsh loneliness of one always sounding rung
In cold mist

Never then did I consider the boon it would’ve been when built
All across London everyone with access to time
A greater distance reached before the later love affair
With noisy engines filthily clogging streets
And all the tall buildings
Scarring the horizon of my hometown beyond recognition
Last time I was there

Never when in London did I think of London much at all

Where New Romantics hung from rusty hooks all along the Thames
As I, styled upon the Rocker, rode motorbikes thirstily
Sometimes drinking in the pubs by the dark empty wharfs
Where old wood creaked, bells rang hollow
And old bouys struggled to keep their heads
Above the cold rushing water trying to pull them under

I liked to go watch Chelsea
(still am a fan)
Plenty of misery loves company
Found in the Shed
Through the 80s to late 90s

Definitely the time . . .

Given an insatiable infatuation with music
Didn’t utilise seeing enough bands
Took it all for granted
Didn’t realise until in the West Country
There, what bands did bother to play Bristol
Weren’t so easy to go see
Though it was getting home that was the real buggery

These days, try to make amends
With Toronto’s live music scene
Where being spoiled for choice
Borders on the obscene


The big hand of the watch moved ever onward
Lifting like a little hammer before striking another innocent second to smithereens
Executioner impatient, somewhere important to be

Do people come to these pages
To hear a whole C.V.
Or resume
As some say?

I hope not

Blah-blah-blah, worked here; la-la-la, worked for them
Keep that for elsewhere
Concentrate on me-me-me instead
Like the addiction to tea
(not all that fussed about coffee)
And the great deal of favoritism shown I.P.A.s
Red wine and dear old gin

Give me a good book over that stuff on T.V.
Give me that any day
Except the ones lived in London
There I rarely read a bean
Stifled by the busy big-smokiness of it all
And (tbf) puffed-up a little too much
By an over-inflated sense of self-esteem

Though, nonetheless, there it was where wanting to write was realised
But never really followed up on beyond the odd pop
At poetry
Say, about the woman downstairs
Robbing the old boy along the way
Thanks to an addiction
Odds on the horses

Some might say scum
Others victim of circumstance

Wasn’t until moving away
Looking back with not quite
The same level of anger
I could start to see some clarity
Depth beyond the superficial
And write about it
At some sort of length

The watch face is off-white
Hands light brown like the strap
Green tint at the edge
So they show in the dark

Haven’t used that watch for some time
The one worn black and white, simple as
The brown and green sits so much nicer with the summer scene, perhaps

Superficial poetic license
When generally speaking
I favour abstract

Still, when looking up from the watch in Toronto
It’s a streetcar approaching
Not some metaphor obscure

After all
After all that waiting
It was about time




Apocalypse Now  catch-22


fowles  trojan ska

edgar-broughton-band-hotel-room-harvest-4    LotF

candide   madman   pigeon

ledzeppelinii       timbuktu

Special thanks and credit for the faithful portrait of me (below) to the outstandingly talented Leigh at  shutupnroll.tumblr and shutupandroll.postach also to WDB for providing the only picture of the Cat’s Whiskers found on the internet.

If you did come here looking for a C.V. the following links maybe of some assistance:

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.