In Your Shoes

Friday 7th September 2012

BATH is a busy old city, even at the back-end of summer. You’re never far from the aroma of coffee, an open-top bus, or a footage of tourists: Avon calling. It would be on my short-list of places to dwell on retirement; could I afford either.

Leaving the station, I hum the beginnings of a haiku…

Poets on platforms
Writing between railway lines
It’s just the ticket

…which isn’t one of my better pieces, but at least I’m easing back in after a few weeks of near wordlessness: more benumbed than blocked. I need to get out more.

Kate drives us to Twerton. It’s a hot day. We wind the windows down, like students heading for a festival.

June introduces me to the writing group at Time Bank Plus. She and I have been exchanging daft emails about The Ferry in Brough, a pub we both remember from years gone by. I tell them of my fondness for an actress from Hull, with whom I shared the stage as a teenager.

This also needs more work, but it’s a start:

Invest, save, cash in
On high interest hours spent
At Twerton Time Bank

Their In Your Shoes project has led to many great images and lyrical poems about the river. The coffee’s good too. We discuss making recordings, maybe a booklet. They’re planning a Murder Mystery event next. The other smokers are from Belfast and Rumania.

They solve the riddles of my birthplace (born anarchic, this lively, energetic Yorkshireman) and university – becoming radicalised, I study theatre, omitting lectures. I scribble another, for June: those Humberside evenings; first experiences; rough, ready youthfulness.

The farewells include a squiggle of impromptu rhyming couplets. I am again in the company of word-players.

We grab sandwiches from the local Co-op, weave our way back to the Abbey. An afternoon in the library’s archive of local pamphlets, magazines and scrap books, means missing a planned train.

Awaiting the next one, I recall discovering railway poems by Larkin and Betjeman.

Childhood memories
Itch, scratch, need a shaking out
Like stones in your shoes

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