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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, March 10, 2006
    North to South and back again
     
    I'm on Tottenham Court Road after an enjoyable Greenbelt lunch and protracted pub chat with Roy and Oliver. I've been here so often in recent years that it feels comfortably familiar. Though not quite like home.

    On the train journey down I started Roger McGough's autobiography, a joy to read. He spent his early years in places very familiar to me - a mile or so from the axis between my grandmothers' homes which I frequently travelled, he lived by the famous sausage factory on our bus route into town. So his description of the geography of his early years, with its hint of wise old T.S. Eliot at the end, is one I relate to, sitting here:

    North:
    Jubilee Road. Near the canal by the lift-bridge
    in Litherland, a frying-pan's throw away
    from the Richmond Sausage factory,
    grandma McGough, having raised seven sons
    and a daughter lived alone. No jubilation.
    All done and dusted. Frost on the aspidistra.
    Helsinki.

    South:

    Alder Street. In a roomy back-to-back
    in a cul-de-sac near Seaforth Docks,
    grandma McGarry, having borne thirteen
    was deaf to the noise of grandchildren,
    giddy aunts and messmates. 'Put the kettle on.'
    'It suits you.' 'Who's for a game of cards?'
    Naples.

    For those early years this was my geography.
    My north, my south, I sailed between the two.
    Since then I've travelled the world and found
    that everything I learned, I already knew.