FISH N CHIPS IN THE NORTH:
They call it the Midlands but everywhere is north of South Essex.
Good to gather with friends yesterday around the beautiful game.
The clan of the touchline tempered by time where real friendships
remain, I looked you in the eye & knew we were still on the same side.
The field of play raps around the world as we ride a train into the heart
of the Black Country, lyrics generated in my head where space & dust
used to be. I have to keep traveling, it’s the root of poetry & art.
Voices turn from south-n-loud to sing-song-Brum, cheery like I
don’t remember it when I lived up there. Gangs of lads sing in that
universal guttural timbre of terrace choirs as they pile onto the train
at the Hawthorns, turning everything they see into a song. Though at first
they put fear in their fellow travellers they soon have everyone smiling
They’re brilliant – singing about the left side of the train then the right side
of the train then singing the words on the carrier bags of the shoppers
around them & censoring themselves with loud ‘Shhhhh’s’ when they get
to the rude bits. The ticket collector keeps an eye. I hear him say,
“They’re good lads. They sing like this all the time, but they’ll run
out’ve steam further up the line & soon you wouldn’t even know they
Girlfriends clutch boyfriends & boyfriends fake it with manly grins,
all willing the trains to get to destinations a little faster.
I turn to you & say,
but you’re smiling, you know the score & I could travel the world with you
like this for ever, just keep going, visiting people we love
with our cell phones, note books & a bag of overnight stuff.
All the lads
get off at our stop just like you thought, but there’s a smell of fish n chips
that unites us all, a powerful air of nostalgia evoking good memories.
A steam train pulled into the platform, cameras flashing,
gentle faces milling around & everywhere people gathered silently
smiling to one another, eating fish n chips straight out the paper.