What is it that draws me like a magnet to its concentrated centre?
At first it was the zoo with our membership, three free tickets to enter.
There was that school trip to The Tower, the museum and Royal tombs in the Abbey.
All this by bus and underground, no funds yet to pay for an expensive cabbie.
Footloose and fancy free, long before my first girlfriend, I hadn’t even met her.
My first real job, aged eighteen, as an A.S.M. on a play at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Through more stage doors I passed at The Vaudeville, The Whitehall The Palace, The Fortune, Young Vic and Drury Lane.
For the Repertory Players at the Comedy and Criterion, I volunteered for free to lift my grade for a career gain.
Processions have paraded here, come rain and shine, in freezing cold and excessive heat,
Along the tree lined Mall to peer at the Queen’s official home, our gracious sovereign’s seat.
Cromwell on his horse and Churchill on his plinth peer up at their queen’s tower, her name passed over in favour of a large clock called Ben
Below the seat of government, the mother of parliament since god knows when.
Peer at Palaces Westminster, St James’s and Kensington plus Clarence house.
No one home in the silly season whilst their train rushes North to shoot the grouse.
Past the cenotaph, Banqueting House, household cavalry at Horse Guards, the black gates for those two houses, numbers eleven and ten,
To the battle square and a beheaded mounted king below a column on which stands the most celebrated of men.
Through a succession of circuses but no, not the ones that perform those tricks,
Up the street of newspapers to the apostle’s cathedral, rebuilt from the fire of 1666.
Colourful sights, a cacophony of sounds, into all this I was hurled.
Luxurious cinemas where I escaped into such a wondrous and different world.
New squares, parks, arcades, markets, mews, alleys, all to explore,
Scotland Yard, Old Bailey, Courts of Justice, the centres of British law.
Though I lost touch with old pals, through work I made new friends,
Moved in with them near Karl’s cemetery high above where my beloved river bends,
Where, on its South bank, orchestras play in a Hall to commemorate the Festival of Britain and talented actors stride our national stage,
And downstream at the Globe, his works performed to celebrate his every magical page.
When absent and distant from it, I miss it, no matter how long or far.
I must return there by train, by plane by bus, don’t take the car.
Let me once more feel its vibrancy, its rhythms, its smells and sound
The vistas, to taste its character, in “the smoke” what a jewel I found.