The one smart street, the way back home if I was going past the Rialto,
long before the riots… the times we went for tea in Reeces in the Lyceum –
where that other city surfaced, the one I could half see if I didn’t look too directly:
city of frock-coated merchants, and shipping lists, and the smell in the air of tobacco
and dark Barbados sugar and sweating flesh; city wondering where all the money
went, why the bombs fell, what made everything fall apart; the graceful room friezed
with nymphs like a Wedgewood urn, the Scouse waitresses, me so young I was too
shy to go to a cafe on my own, the half enchantment, half horror of so much past
crowded into one place, dwarfing my own life into comic meaninglessness.
Oh I’d loved Bold Street, street with ideas of being a street in Chelsea
or Kensington, but never managing, or wanting to get up and make the leap.