London Again

An attempt to convey some of the feelings I experienced when returning to London for the first time for just over 3.5 years. I arrived at Victoria station by train then walked to Lincoln’s Inn Field for a meeting with lawyers passing by Birdcage Walk. I returned to London Bridge station past the LSE and various bits of the City. One strange thing to note is that in prison the air that we breath is scented by the kitchens (a bit like school dinners) and various human excretions and uncleaned waste. On the streets of London I actually found difficulty breathing deeply because of the petroleum polluants that infuse the air. Yet people stand on the pavements drinking….like I used to love to do many , many years ago…. without seeming to notice or mind. Blessèd be their lungs!

London Again


In London again, after so many years

Pounding the pavements, avoiding the crowded subway station

The so-called tube, veritable vale of tears

Has anything changed since my rights’ abrogation?

Gone the great, grey gates, far-flung the fearful fences

Now beyond the razor wire, regained – full use of my senses


But there are guards around the palace, an inverted prison

Barriers and bollards as if where I was

Was the home of a monarch, from the people well-hidden

Unmentioned on television news because…

If the truth were known to the man in the street

Unrest might take place in the summer heat….


But this city, a capital in so many ways

Is still caped in cold, colonial tradition

A tourist, watching soldiers, for an ice cream pays

As guardsmen practice funereal repetition

I pass people purposefully drinking and eating

Pub schmoozers eschewing the outside seating


Youngsters scurrying through the traffic of jam

Bicycles more scary than motorised cars

For the fair-weather cyclist I once was – and still am

My body shows the signs, these well-worn scars

Of past adventures on two skinny wheels

 We know how the tarmac of London feels


So I rely on my feet, old but walking the fastest

Mulling over the map that I made in my mind

While Londoners clutch phones, the latest and smartest

I observe, yet manage, to leave them behind

As I did when I used to travel to court

Such lasting memories loud London has brought!


I recall prison journeys, back and forth to Wandsworth

Peering through those rose-tinted windows

On buses of abuse, driven by a jobsworth

Watching as we lurched through evening shadows

O, how very different is all this

From a prisoner’s sorrow to a free man’s bliss!


Here I am now amongst the hustle and bustle of it all

That wealth unseen by co-travelling commuters

Culture creeping even from market stall

Skyscrapers steaming, gleaming screens of computers

Money laundered behind bullet proof glass

Reminding me of the jest of past judicial farce


Unheard by the crowds, the sirens’ wail

As they rush through historic street or lane

Some visitor, someone, maybe weak or frail

Might have fallen from a passing plane

They care not a jot as they rush along their way

They aim to catch their train at end of their day


Their purpose in London, seems to be to get to another place

Or to pass their time until fellow flocks have flown

Consuming substances that obscure the rat-race

Whilst I, like some, proceed on my own

To meet with lawyers in bizarre-sounding chambers

I am another of those aimless London ramblers


So, yes, I feel at home in this other fair city

What has changed in these years is only peripheral

As in that song, I find the girls are so pretty

Where an old man’s ramblings are much more than apocryphal

This is a place of European civilisation

Where this no-nation man can still find his station