Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Journeys with Giants - a reminiscence

Journeys with Giants, England, 1946

Once there were giants, giants of iron,
giants that travelled on seven-league wheels.
Fire-bellied giants, roaming the countryside,
filling the air with their belches and squeals.
Giant can take me. Giant can tempt me.
Lean out the window as far as I dare.
Wind in my face. I'm in disgrace.
"Marian, DON'T! You'll get smuts in your hair!"

Over the stream, over the fields,
glimpse of a manor house, cottages, pubs.
Slow down and stop. Suddenly quiet.
Station with shrubs and bright flowers in tubs.
Bang of a door. Make room for more.
Song of a skylark and fragrance of hay.
Giant's slow huff. Starting is tough.
Huffs gather speed and we're back on our way.

Field becomes lawn, house becomes factory,
lark becomes pigeon, that becomes this.
End of the line. Into the terminus.
Pull to a stop with a hissssssss..... Then a kiss.
Aunt Jane from Chiswick, lives on her own.
Sensible shoes, and her hair in a bun.
"Welcome to town.. my how you've grown..
...we'll have ice cream when the shopping's all done"

Into a world that's made to fit giants.
Slow-moving forest of trousers and skirts.
Down escalators, up escalators.
Mummy is holding so tight that it hurts.
Man with balloons playing the spoons;
blur of red buses and people and shops.
Roaring traffic. Whistling cops.
A huge, restless city where sound never stops.

Corner House lunch, down in the Brasserie,
strawberry ice cream with wafer so thin.
Then the Museum of Natural History.
But I'm too tired to take it all in.
Back with a giant, giant of iron,
rumbling home under darkening skies.
Such a long day. Such a long way.
There's lead in my eyelids and grit in my eyes.

Fields are dark. Gone is the lark.
Stations are dim-lit, mysterious places.
World become small, nothing at all
in the window except our own, town-weary faces.
Take off my shoes, lean towards Mummy.
She snuggles me round and I curl up my feet.
Falling asleep to that comforting sound,
the ticketty-boom of the giant's heartbeat.