Caught by the River

vapour trails

John Andrews | 23rd April 2008


the nearest blue plaque to here belongs to the memory of john betjeman who lived up the hill in a yellow stuccoed villa. he who saw the screens in hospitals like the kent and sussex in bluebell vistas and heard the bang of the coffin nail in the peal of a church bell. everything will have significance now. every spud you plant, every onion row, every trot down an empty stretch. every time the spring wind turns to the east and catches the back of your neck. signs which say ‘private fishing’ will take on a deeper meaning. you’ll want to make bonfires of books and start again somewhere new. i met someone on saturday night who was in the same place and had burnt their passport. betjeman had it right when he wrote,

‘that garden where he used to stand
and where the robin waited
to fly and perch upon his hand
and feed till it was sated

the times would never have the space
for ned’s discreet achievements;
the public prints are not the place
for intimate bereavements’

oil the hinges on the garden gate and put some cake and crust on the birdtable