Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Original poem by John Clare. Recorded at Southbank Centre, 2013.
We get up at four, sticky from sleep,
so Colin can get to the market.
When he has gone, I realise it’s raining.
The tube of indigo watercolour is almost empty
which shows how bad the weather has been this summer.
At Waterloo Station, the platform indicators flap and ruffle.
Trains leave and arrive. At home, email piles up silently
like snow. In town it’s so hot, the smell of waffles
fills every crevice.
Storms can sour milk, but ours is always cool and sweet.
Colin comes back, his yellow fleece soaked. He strides up
and down the lounge,
electricity clicking like silver castanets from his fingers.
My paperbacks rustle as he goes by. Soon it will be Autumn.
We go to bed at nine, diving into sleep in half-light,
When I was young and Christmas had a Christ,
On Christmas Eve my Dad would disappear
On a secret mission to the woods, to top
A holly tree and trim some berried twigs.
Come rain or shine he tramped the muddy paths
Through leaf-strewn glades and squelching ditches to
His pre-selected target, fingers crossed
That no-one else had been and taken it.
When mission was accomplished he returned
In triumph, bearing a shapely tree aloft,
With sprigs of holly as minor trophies, all
To be received with squeals of great delight.
The potted tree, placed in the sitting-room,
Was hung with tinsel, mini paper-chains,
A star and silver shreds, and finished off
With candles stood in holders clipped to twigs.
The joy of presents underneath the tree,
The lighting of the candles and the smell
Of burning wax that wafted round the room,
The homely flickering of splintered light.
But now the artificial Christmas tree
Is brought down from the attic, shaken out
And twisted into shape on plastic legs,
To be adorned with costly merchandise,
All lit by sets of electric lights that shine
With automated flash. But where, oh where,
The spontaneity, delight? At close
Of Boxing Day the flickering light goes out.
arranging Christmas lights
outside: the sky reds and blues
the Christmas bauble
fallen from the loft
still whole and shining
tonight it tops
even the floodlit castle:
the floodlit moon