Carpe Diem in Suburban London

When I wake and the sun is shining
My spirits leap.
Turning,  I watch your chest gently rising and falling
And I am glad, so glad that you will be here
To share this precious day. 


The dawn has broken and the birds flit from bush to tree
Finding a perch high up from which
To announce their presence and welcome
The fact that they are alive. 
“My territory,” they announce, “My family; my food.”
I cannot blame them,
Where not to fight for the right to survive
Means certain death. 
I watched last year how the new blue-tit parents
Failed to provide 
And all nine chicks lost their lives. 


But I am human and English and comfortable 
And on Saturday mornings the whole world is mine 
For an hour or maybe more. 
Quietly I slip from the bed and into a gown,
Creeping downstairs to boil the kettle
And look out on the garden,
Which has grown while I was not looking. 
Sitting at the table next to the garden door,
I luxuriate in the early gentle sunlight
And the bird song and the peace
And the fact that there is not yet traffic. 
A woody scent emanates from the earth
As the dew evaporates with the growing warmth. 
I hear a plop and a frog returns to the
Tiny kidney-shaped pond next to the pear tree. 
And I think of England – as did Shelley- except I am here.


I have another 45 minutes, surely. 
As the sun rises and the bird song diminishes
On my little patch of paradise
I still think of England. 
I think of my early morning England. 
But the noise of traffic increases as does the dust in the air
And it becomes city dry 
Taking on that acrid brightness that is city.
My vision freezes and becomes another England. 
The heat is increasing but I pull my gown closer
And shiver at the prospect,
My tea now cool in the mug. 
One neighbour has decided to spray insecticide
Early, while it is cool – and another to trim the edges. 
At the back, the children have woken
They wail in an argument over the iPad. 
The cacophony of what is England now 
Breaks on my consciousness. 
England – fair England –
Eaten up by diesel fumes and thoughtlessness. 


I hear you stir.
I am so glad you will be here with me,
For a while longer.
The one constant in a changing and polluting world
That I still want to hold dear. 


I will take you up a morning cuppa. 

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

I apologise if you have read this before under a different name. I have made revisions and the title has changed as has the photo.

Strawberry Hill

The house frontage onto the gardens with current marquee/ cafeteria extension. Note Queen Mary’s University is actually attached.

An iced fairy-cake,
White Gothic structure
Shining in the sun with
Turrets, towers and chimneys
Spires, like icing sugar
Spiking heavenward,
Brilliant against
The dome of a blue sky.
Castellations of legends
And pointed, arched windows
Full of intricate tracings.
Paradise of imagination,
Packed with curiosities
In the collections of
Walpole’s desires
And eccentricities.

Strawberry Hill, London, is currently open to the public with an exhibition of some of the items collected by Horace Walpole (son of Britain’s first Prime Minister). He was an avid collector of art and curiosities, from fine art to armour and coins etc.

Chimneys and spires against a stormy sky at Strawberry Hill.

The house originally fronted onto the Thames, but the land in front has now been built upon and the site has been developed as part of Queen Mary’s University, London, in fact the students wander around the campus on the lawns outside and have lectures in the adjoining rooms.

Walpole designed this house together with his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as a ‘private retreat and a house for show, a place for study and for elaborate parties.’*

Not only is the exterior beautiful, but the interior has rooms or varying shapes, and sizes, ceilings which must be some of the best examples of Gothic revivalism known. There is a mirrored gallery, glitzy with gold and cream Gothic pinnacle ceiling and the prettiest library I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately I could not photograph the interior this time due to so many of the artefacts being on private loan.

It is well worth a visit though for those who like the Gothic style.

The turret and ornate iron staircase at Strawberry Hill.

Poem, prose and photos copyright Englepip©

Daily Prompt: Florida shooting

 

P1070409Did I provoke you to use a gun

In school, just because I was young?

Did you see me along with my mates

When you burst in through the school gates?

Did you think it all was a game

That each one would rise up again

Like they do in the video games?

 

Maybe you thought this would help

You get back at the staff who tried

To put you on the right track.

Maybe you hated authority figures

Thought you could solve things

With your trigger.

Now look at what you have done

A  community killed with a gun.

But the state says you may have one

It’s your citizen’s right in the law.

But what about innocents like me

A victim you never cared for or saw?

Did you think my life didn’t matter

You just fancied to see some blood spatter.

 

Should we really all carry a gun

So when we’re drunk, drugged or want to have fun

We can shoot from the hip

Spray bullets from our grip

From a weapon of death

Kill all before?

But the Second Amendment

States freedom, is to live with a gun

Should you want

But I ask you please to consider

 

If my death was my freedom

The freedom I want.

 

I have been shocked as have many around the world at the Florida school shooting. 17 lives ended and there is a big call from young people in particular, for a change in the law in the USA  which allows people to own guns. I understand the culture in the USA is very different from in the UK and some people are frightened and feel the gun law cannot be dispensed with – but Australia did it!

The photo is a provocative piece of street art by Bambi, in London, supposedly of the Michael Brown killing in 2014, but I think the picture is relevant here too. It shows an innocent saying don’t shoot. Guns are weapons, whether in the hands of the law or of ordinary people.

I would be interested to know what you think about gun law in general or in your own country.

 

Words and photo copyright Englepip©

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Provoke

Daily Prompt: Gabby Young Trio

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The Gabby Young Trio at the Midsummer Festival at the Royal Academy of Arts 2014

Surrounded by art

Of the great and good

The musical trio

With instruments stood.

Not the stuck up and haughty

But winsome and naughty

Playing music, rock-folksy with jazz.

The girls  decked with flowers

Their dresses so pretty

A guitarist both

Bearded and tall.

And as they play

With energy boundless

We find ourselves

Tapping away.

Their tunes

Captivating 

Almost hypnotising

We smile as we welcome

This treat.

For this great occasion

Is one huge alloy

Art, sculpture and music

Concurrent.

Was there e’r such an evening

Of beauty and laughter

Of dancing and singing

The gallery ringing

To tunes which

Express so much love.

I wrote this poem in celebration of a wonderful evening at The Royal Academy of Art Midsummer Festival in 2014. The exhibition each year, takes work from emerging and established artists and gives them a chance to showcase their work. In 2014 they had a wonderful party for which I won some tickets. It was an very memorable evening and for me this trio was the icing on the cake. I believe Gabby Young went on to form a group Gabby Young and other Animals but I don’t think they are currently performing.

Here is a link to more about the group. Click here.

Words and photo copyright Englepip©

Daily Prompt: Captivating

Daily Prompt: The Golden Jubilee Bridge, London

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Almost astral,

The lights along the bridge,

Leading  our path

Across the Thames

South to North along

The Golden Jubilee Bridge

Turned royal purple

In the night

For our queen.

There are two  Golden Jubilee Bridges each flanking the Hungerford Railway Bridge which carries trains from Charring Cross on the north side of the Thames to Waterloo Station and the London Eye on the south. The bridges are only 4 metres wide and are pedestrian bridges constructed in 2002 and named in honour of  Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. At night they are lit usually by a purple light.

via Daily Prompt:astral

 

 

Daily Prompt:The Developers

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Picture from January 2015

Make way: make way

The developers say

As their wrecking balls

Crash down the walls.

Condemned as unfit

The buildings are split

Ridding them of trouble

Turning all to rubble

For once it’s all razed

There’s money to be made

Erecting posh offices

Or executive pads.

Never mind how we feel

The development’s a steal

For those with power

Over the poor.

And I ask

“Have you an inkling

Of the grief we are thinking

When you split our community apart?”

 

In the East End of London, Spitalfields, many homes and buildings have been demolished and replaced with high cost housing or expensive office blocks. This has tended to price the local people out of the area, break up communities and bring in new residents who have no close ties to the community. Often buildings could have been improved but there is more money in doing them up for a different market or other things. On the positive side, the Street Artists have moved in and taken advantage of bare walls and fencing to display their work. One of my favourites was the madonna-like figure on the end wall behind the hoarding in my photograph above. The area around Brick Lane is a mecca for  restaurants and tourists. But for local people who want to stay, it is impossible – it can be over a million pounds for a 2 bedroom apartment!  There have been protests against the ‘gentrification’ of the area but money always wins.

Screenshot 2018-01-28 15.18.23

Screenshot from Google Maps, shows a demolition site in the heart of Spitalfields.

Photos and words copyright Englepip©

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Inkling

London (architecture old and new)

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I scan the horizon and wonder

Which building will today

Dominate the skyline.

Vying for height, shape and spectacle

They rise, in London, to the sky:

Above the smog.

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2003, The Gherkin: rocket or vegetable?

Love it or hate it: amusing cuteness.

2014, Walkie Talkie leaning tower,  

Sky garden overhang

TV screening a view of the rest.

But 2012 was The Shard.

Aloof, a proud spike: icicle upended.

Taller than the rest.

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Should we revere these pinnacles of modernity? 

In a world moving onwards and definitely upwards.

Or look back to Wren, St Paul’s sublime dome

From the east obliterated now by steel and glass.

 

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Should we recreate the romance of the past

Shakespeare’s and Wanamaker’s Globe

Reliving nightly the fifteenth century

In the twenty first?

 

P1230421

 

Defend, promote, revive,

Preserve, destroy, reuse?

Infil, demolish, redesign.

 

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P1420275

Architecture:

A spirit of each age.

What will it bring tomorrow?

 

Photos and wording copyright Englepip©

 

via Daily Prompt: Dominant

Daily Prompt: Old versus New

shard at night

I used to prefer the old to the new

Classics over modernists

St Paul’s to the Shard.

I used to believe

Things should stay as they were

We should never move on

That change should be barred.

But then now became past

And your love slipped away

I  knew that you’d changed

And that I could not stay.

So now I look at the world

Through different eyes

New is the preference

I tend to prioritise.

For the world’s ever changing

What’s gone can’t return

A new future is beckoning

From the past I have learned.

 

Photo of the South Bank of the River Thames, London, showing the modern architecture, including the Thames. Poem and photo Copyright Englepip ©

 

via Daily Prompt: Prefer