Friday, 14 February 2014

London Streets

About thirty five years ago, myself and two friends went for a drink in Brentwood. We got so drunk that we fell asleep on the train home, missed our stop, and consequently ended up having to spend the night on Liverpool Street Station. Not very nice. Especially when a poor old down and out lady sits down very near you, starts swearing and shouting out racist comments, and then does something rather disgusting, before being dragged away by two hapless policeman. Said lady figures in the subsequent poem borne of this event, as do the two policemen.

The London Streets of Ralph McTell

The London Streets of Ralph McTell
A land so rank with the rancid smell
Of a rubbish tip and a nearby den
Of broken bottles
And broken men
Round Bishop's Gate
They congregate
In one big methylated state and wait
For the soup van, cups of tea,
And a box to sleep in
All for free

Then it's down
Downward bound
To the depths of the London Underground
Where a drunken dragon
With a voice so dry
Shouts racial abuse at passers by
And as a sudden entrance to a sickly play
Two policemen appear, and she's dragged away
But the smell of urine lingers on
As the London busker sings his song..........

The London streets of Ralph McTell
Where an old man walks in a living hell
With a brown paper bag and a manic grin
Through the Sinking
Streets of sin
And as the night draws in on another cold day
He staggers and sways as he finds his way
To a rubbish tip and a nearby den
Of broken bottles
And broken men

So let me take you by the hand
And lead you away from this wasted land
Where a tramp in the gutter
Is a pitiful sight
On a cold, uncaring winter's night
We'll walk through the streets in the pouring rain
Go home on the early morning train
Far away from the filth
And the rancid smell
Of the London streets of Ralph McTell


  1. A very vivid picture of the sights people try very hard not to see.

    Have you ever thought about publishing a collection?

  2. Thanks Annalisa. Maybe,eventually. The poem above is at least twenty five years old. Most of the others are fairly new. If I could get enough together I wouldn't mind giving it a try. Just need to get a bigger collection really. I'm quite fussy as well. Thanks for the positive feedback.

  3. I keep saying exactly what Annalisa said!

    1. Strength in numbers, Linda - we can convince him together :-)


All comments welcome!