Today I received a second series of immunisations – two injections, one on each arm. My new GP, a no-nonsense German woman of some academic distinction, instructed me to return twice more before I fly off to the UK next month. My former GP has refused to forward my immunisations record to her. For the sake of keeping all records together and ensuring that I am prepared for the world’s nastiest diseases, I am to receive all regular immunisations again. I am, as a result, a human pincushion with more holes in his skin than a Glasgow junkie on the Sunday morning after his dole cheque was cashed.
Now, for the poetry competition! Please review the following:
She died in the upstairs bedroom
By the light of the ev’ning star
That shone through the plate glass window
From over Leamington Spa
Beside her the lonely crochet
Lay patiently and unstirred,
But the fingers that would have work’d it
Were dead as the spoken word.
And Nurse came in with the tea-things
Breast high ‘mid the stands and chairs-
But Nurse was alone with her own little soul,
And the things were alone with theirs.
She bolted the big round window,
She let the blinds unroll,
She set a match to the mantle,
She covered the fire with coal.
And “Tea!” she said in a tiny voice
“Wake up! It’s nearly five”
Oh! Chintzy, chintzy cheeriness,
Half dead and half alive.
Do you know that the stucco is peeling?
Do you know that the heart will stop?
From those yellow Italianate arches
Do you hear the plaster drop?
Nurse looked at the silent bedstead,
At the grey, decaying face,
As the calm of a Leamington ev’ning
Drifted into the place.
She moved the table of bottles
Away from the bed to the wall;
And tiptoeing gently over the stairs
Turned down the gas in the hall.
Oh when my love, my darling,
You’ve left me here alone,
I’ll walk the streets of London
Which once seemed all our own.
The vast suburban churches
Together we have found:
The ones which smelt of gaslight
The ones in incense drown’d;
I’ll use them now for praying in
And not for looking round.
No more the Hackney Empire
Shall find us in its stalls
When on the limelit crooner
The thankful curtain falls,
And soft electric lamplight
Reveals the gilded walls.
I will not go to Finsbury Park
The putting course to see
Nor cross the crowded High Road
To Williamsons’ to tea,
For these and all the other things
Were part of you and me.
I love you, oh my darling,
And what I can’t make out
Is why since you have left me
I’m somehow still about.
And now, your task: write a poem that creates a sense of place. It doesn’t have to be as morbid as these two. All submissions to be turned in by 7 April 2015. Results will be announced on the evening of 8 April, after my visit to the V&A and I sit my exam on Indian history.