Late summer; London early evening

I told you that you walked too fast, that night
Walking, and waltzing, around traffic and people;
Leading me diagonally across unexpected squares
From momentary lonely old London streets;
There you steered me through unfamiliar spaces
Your soft impatient hand disengaging, now and
Then, through blue green lawns watched by
Finely honed people alabastered in stone.

And there it was, the blue china cup, that
We laughed at through the window in
South Audley Street; deep satin blue with a
Hideous pink – this you would buy me; this
One you said. It was hideous, charming,
Expensive I said. And I dared you to touch
It, but away we were led.

A slow urgent humming disturbed us.
Heavy wheels whispered in the window

"We know how it works, how it all comes
Together; so we have no time to dance;
No time to chance the fleeting whimsy
And now you must watch us as we go"

Impatient doors in important buildings
Implored their attendance - they were gone
Like a ministerial summons to
An evening of austere extravagance.
Tight smiles, tailored exchanges
Regulatory handshakes and anxious
Glances over glasses, each one gauging
The liquidity of their status.

The blue cup dissolved as you led me
On further, dizzying me with turns and
Pirouettes in shimmering squares of
Expensive silks, hemmed in hallways,
Tailored topiary and the sweet embalming
Scent of languid luxury – a seeping elixir
Sapping from pliant trees.

With its unexpected greens, Berkeley Square
Bemused me; Hanover Square confused me
And Bruton Street left me cold. And there
It was, the numbing vision, the dull ache, the
Home sickening ennui, lulling, between High Tea
And Early Drinks. That's why I wanted, you said,
The Ritz or The Wolsey and a smart summer dress;
Serious shoes in dark velvet green and
An outrageous dinner suit, probably in
Absinthe, instantly made for you.

Beggars to an invitation we sidled down Curzon
Street silenced to the sound of purposeful cars; voices
With a destination and laughter with social intent.
Soft lighting and crisp linen unfolded through
Tall windows in discreet places where people
With knowledge ate from plates, plates that were
Deep satin blue with a hideous expensive pink.

Chauffeurs to the coiffured stood by in attendance
As you grasped me by the hand and took me in
Your arms. "Dance with me, seriously, dance with
Me" you said.

And I laughed and I cried and I sang with a trance
As we fell through Shepherds Market, you in your
Pale brown shoes, those with the worn down heels,
And me in that old linen shirt.

Warm Burgundy, soft creases and the
Glowing sweat on my neck, on the hairs on
My chest and my pen dry hands. You're a gypsy,
You declared, with the red wine on your lips.
You're a Duchess I entreated with those
Green velvet shoes, and that mad
Absinthe suit and with nowhere to go but a window
Of a shop – somewhere down that street.

Nervously we drank on brave vintages from lonely
French vineyards in locations beyond my wallet
In the middle of the street, late summer,
London early evening. Mayfair.

And what was it called? South Audley, I think
The street with the hideous pink and the
Deep satin blue and that big important car.
And then I held your hand as we danced
Into the blue cobalt corner of where we are now.

And there we were fixed, in a canvas of fading
Definition, voices blurring against a closing of
Doors, a reappraisal of purses and a pending
Sense of closure. Others, important others,
Stayed later, glibly transfixed, painted into
Destination venues predisposed to scintillate
Ambitious palettes, valeted egos and their
Expense account sense of success.

So Park Lane roared as I felt you once more
In this fragile assemblage of an evening.
The Gypsy, the Duchess, the lyrical passing
Of a time when I knew, perhaps only ever
Now, that I had truly danced with you as I
Never had, but always should.

London closed its eyes, a hotel door softened
The exuberant late night band and somewhere
I held your fragile hand.

"Yes, I am still here", I whispered.

Tom Warman

Written in September 2009.


In youth I decided that life is fucking foul.
People are foul,
the weather too,
too much time on my hands to consider it,
ponder the shite,
discuss others and myself,
allow flaws to infect the positives in us all.

this city, my city,
it offers respite from everything.
This home, my home,
it gives me somewhere to travel,
somewhere to traverse,
somewhere to leave my thoughts and feelings behind.

The imprints of my footsteps can be found throughout this place,
the marks melded with every negative,
imbued with every insecurity.
I have left my prints here,
and will continue to.
My image will one day be burnt onto these streets,
just as the sticky syllables of my name,
will leave their signature on the vocal chords of every local.

As I drove back into the centre,
the world left my shoulders,
and my lungs allowed six months of poison to escape.

Jacob Ormrod

Jake is struggling to find his place as a writer in Manchester.

What Passes Me By?


Discarded glad rags

Adorn a hedge on the wharf

Once worn, once adored.


A cess pool puddle

Comes and goes with the weather

Havoc for footwear.


Bronze, brazen building

With a high opinion

Of itself, not me


‘No pleasure craft here’

Water is too grey for fun

Liquid rules apply


A holy figure

He is enshrouded of paint

On the street in flakes

Elspeth Vischer