Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Poem by Richmond Adult Community College creative writing student, c.2000-2005.
Play on Words series. Design by Alex Hearn.
How many summers is it together,
with your vents and doors open;
how many springs,
full of self-important shoots;
how many autumns,
dusty and home to spiders;
and how many winters,
shut, inward looking
at not very much?
Your pungence, creativity
and openness draw her in.
You’re completely transparent –
or so it seems.
Do you long for your great aunts
at Kew, Edinburgh and Belfast,
full of spectacle, colour, sprinklers?
Do you long for a white staircase?
You’re tended by just the one gardener.
The same pair of brown mottled hands,
pummelling rich black spongey earth into plastic pots;
labels, lovingly written in blue pencil;
sprigs of green firmly pushed into place.
The trains rattle at your windows,
a mini earthquake, but one you can count on.
No need for a welcome mat,
the grass is worn
a polished carpet to your door.
And here she comes,
looking briefly to the gulls,
stepping inside. For a moment,
the sun highlights her silver hairs
caught at the top right of your frame,
as she searches for the hard green gloves.
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.