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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
My parrot with the ruffled feathers
is nobody’s business;
its squawk stabs the ears.
And such attitude!
You see it when it cocks its head;
catch its crazed gleam — and freeze!
When it flies
above you — duck!
My bird’s one wicked pet.
Yeah — it’s teaching me a thing or two.
CLOSING SCENES of the Salisbury Festival:
Haydn and Mozart in St. Edmund’s Church,
A building soon to be deconsecrated
Because irrelevant to civic needs
And turned into a meaningful hotel.
Involuntarily the mind throws up
Fancies of Japanese, back from Stonehenge,
Quaffing keg bitter by the pulpit stair,
Swedes booking coach-tours in the chancel.
SALISBURY becomes a part of Area 5
In 1974, and so its mayor,
Whose office dates back to 1611
(The year of the King James Bible, actually),
Will soon be as irrelevant as the church,
But need not be turned into anything.
LATER THAT NIGHT, outside the City Hall,
Past the Cadena, Debenham’s, Joyland,
Men of the 1st Bn. the Royal Scots
Perform the historic ceremony of Tattoo.
Plaids, bonnets, flash of tenor-drummers’ sticks,
The pipes, stir the blood unmeaningfully
Till ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ rings out
In the quick march, and relevance is restored.
At the corner shop on Union Street,
I dosey-doe around a man my age
who’s just popped out for milk.
He scoots back to his door and opens up.
That serrated sound – the house key going home,
the scrappy jangle of the others on the fob –
is how it was when my door opened to another hand.
I would have been behind him with the fish and chips,
some shopping; finishing a phone call as he let us in.
He would push the door closed with one foot,
step unlooking to the kitchen and the coat hook,
throw the keys onto the side.
There’s the lover’s jingle, there’s the key
that opens a house and clicks it into occupancy.
It begins as a house, an end terrace
in this case
but it will not stop there. Soon it is
which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics’ Institute,
at the main road without even looking
and quickly it is
a town with all four major clearing banks,
a daily paper
and a football team pushing for promotion.
On it goes, oblivious to the Planning Acts,
the green belts
and before we know it it is out of our hands:
hemisphere, universe, hammering out in all directions
mercifully, it is drawn aside through the eye
of a black hole
and bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy, emerging
smaller and smoother
than a billiard ball but weighing more than Saturn.
People stop me in the street, badger me
in the check-out queue
and ask ‘What is this, this that is so small
and so very smooth
but whose mass is greater than the ringed planet?’
It’s just words
I assure them. But they will not have it.