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trafalgar square roars : kim gilmour

polaroid manipulations
see LondonPhotos.Org

d e a t h   t o   L o n d o n !
after u. a. fanthorpe


d a r r a n   a n d e r s o n



And the rains came
bloating the banks of the sullen Thames
as commuters drive past
windscreen wipers panicking,
cursing taxi drivers and congestion charges
listening to radio station meteorologists
reassuring the Thames barrier
will of course
protect from risk of flooding
with blissful ignorance of what is beneath their feet.

Beneath the concrete,
the plumbing,
the electricity cables
beneath gas pipes, layers of clay and Roman ruins,
beneath telephone exchanges and tram underpasses,
beneath the Admiralty citadel
with it’s smell of ink and brandy,
beneath the claustrophobic tube
where voices on the intercom remind travellers
that graffiti tagging,
seat slashing
and train surfing will not be permitted
lies London’s labyrinthine networks;
abandoned ghost stations of the underground,
disused military bunkers and derelict air raid shelters,
the crypts of saints,
desolate shafts
and haunted passageways
and along them scurry rats and outcasts
nocturnal tunnel dwellers,
catacomb apostles of some terrible new faith,
white eyes blinded by even the rumour of light
and running beneath the city
the lost rivers.

The Walbrook
once a sparkling spring
for affluent Roman merchants,
the trickling Tyburn,
the tributaries of Counters Creek,
the creeping Earl’s Sluice,
Falcon and Wandle and Graveny,
the foul Westbourne
coming up for air as the placid Serpentine,
the Effra whose wells were once sacred
its waters bottled by those superstitious enough
to believe in a God,
and the once mighty salmon-filled Fleet,
dyed by tanneries,
overflowing with effluent and offal,
that could turn into a torrent
at the mere suggestion of rain.
All pushed downward and off course
and built over and forgotten.

But they still exist.

Occasionally they would
seep up through the cracks
soaking the shoes of buskers,
waterlogging rugby pitches,
causing the foundations
of the Bank of England to gently subside
and the Jubilee and Victoria Lines to sweat mildew.
They are known only
by the brave and desperate down there
the hobos, crackfiends and brigands
starving and just as forgotten
cursing the surface dwellers
fat with sunshine
who cheer finally
with kamikaze abandon
as they witness the rains reach the rivers.

And the rivers begin to foam and froth
and clashing like bulls
move upward.
The pressure builds.
Passengers on the tube feel the ground shaking
and the creaking of pipes is heard
the lights dim
and there is a sound that fills all the air
as the pressure finally gives
and the deluge bursts through ventilation
and air conditioning shafts,
flooding Cabinet war-rooms
and clandestine Ministry of Defence bunkers,
it punches holes in subway walls,
and trains slip off the track at top speed,
the battery operated Post Office railway
buckles and is crushed
drowning all the letters of London,
and manhole covers explode
up through double-decker buses,
toilets detonate beneath unfortunate depositors
and water bursts through oak doors
and bank vaults
and cascades down corridors
of hotels and office blocks,
boybands
signing contracts with record executives
are pulverised by its force,
mouths used to caviar are filled with effluent,
managers are sent clawing and scrambling
up the walls of call-centres,
and the foundations of buildings are washed away
causing Buckingham Palace,
The Stock Exchange,
The Big Brother House
and The House of Commons
to implode
just as the Prime Minister
is urging people not to panic.

The rich deny the obvious
and with the quintessentially British
stiff upper lip
attempt to make it to dining parties
in gondolas
not realising
the water has no intention of stopping for them,
the flood knows nothing of compromise.
And helicopters fish the bloated corpses
of Ben Elton,
Alistair Campbell
and Chris Moyles
from waters forty feet high and rising

London is washed away
from Canary Wharf to the Green Belt,
from MI5 to the BBC
into the channel they go.
Judges,
management consultants,
royal correspondents
are swept kicking and thrashing
all out to sea
and in the headlines
we read with glee
"London gone, everyone dead"
snug by our firesides in the mountains.

[]

 

© copyright 2004

 

 


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