Amidst the balconies, galleries and catacombs,
Ornate and functional with a weight
Other than history,
Worn wood seats and tables battered
With a century’s elbows,
I came to escape the thrum and sit
Surrounded by philosophical insight,
Such that a building should exist partly
For my own inclusion,
Partly for my imagination,
Partly so as I can say I’ve now been here.
Let its spirit and geniality,
It’s learning and it’s beauty,
Infuse into me a certain earnestness.
The first thing that happens is
I can’t fit my fat arse into the wooden armchair seat.
And then I get a crick in my neck
Trying to read what the man next to me
And then I bang my knee on the underside of the table
And the resulting jog
Spills the coffee of the man across from me,
Mops it up with a handkerchief,
Doesn’t say anything at all,
I skim above the surface of potential intelligence.
I have the glasses, the pens, and even the haircut
Of a man who aims to probe the mysteries
Of the human condition,
But I just googled the fastest route to the
Nearest Tesco’s Metro.
Tick, goes the old Victorian clock.
Tick, and indeed, tock.
How many times has it ticked and it tocked
It’s inevitable onerous tick tock
As amateur learners write margin notes,
And fuss over spilled coffee?
Often e Crave the journey more
Than the destination.
They serve tea here in borrowed mugs.
The intricate coving and architectural embellishments
Gaze down on Sunday supplements.
I dribbled bottled water on my shorts
And it looks like I’ve wet myself.
The old man next to me chuckles
At a passage in his book on ethical Christianity.
If I stay still long enough
I will discover myself,
That I, a loose conglomerate of
Atoms, molecules and thought processes,
Should stand for more than
The repetition of my name.
Closure in the anonymity,
Physical presence, location, time.
If I stay still long enough . . .
These things may come.
And if I can’t get my arse out
From this seat wherein it is wedged,
This may happen
Sooner rather than later.
I spent a lot of time at the Lit and Phil as a sixth former in the late sixties. It probably hasn’t altered much.