The blackened, sooty streets of Shadwell
Glowed in ochre, dingy dark
and twisted, inky shades were formed
with Lucifer’s heretic mark…
Inert and silent stillness rested,
Draped across the dampened ground
And flitting, dancing figures flew
Above me, all without a sound.
A distant light came intermittent
Struggling through the misty rain
A traveller, a hardy fool
Who’d ventured far from his domain.
Approaching ever louder, brighter
Bearing down with startling force
And suddenly they fade away.
I turn and leave the beaten course;
Amongst the dripping filth and moistness
Hid by arches in the gloom
I met a man whose life was done
To listen to his tale of doom.
‘You’re late!’ he spat. ‘The midnight’s past.
Now, listen to my tale of doom.
Your Auntie Enid’s on to me
‘bout doing up the old spare room.’
I seek a place, quite near to here;
a vending place, for paint and paste.
For DIY, in other words,
Where I may rush with hen-pecked haste.
I summoned you, oh nephew dear
because you know this idle place
and may, perchance, assist me in
my half-arsed aim to save my face.
‘Oh, do you know of such a shop?’
he cried. ‘Why yes,’ I reassured.
‘I came upon it last week gone
while I was wand’ring, deathly bored
and waiting for the match to start - ‘twas
Ajax versus Feyenoord.
And lo, there was I, visilin
the subject of your previous words,
A merchant’s house without compare,
A smorgasbord of DIY,
where any home-improvement scheme
is possible!’ I hoarsly cried.
‘Oh, joy!’ he yelled. ‘It must reveal
Its manifold delights to me!’
I briefly thought to tease him but
he touched me with his abject plea.
‘The place you seek is very near.
You take a right, then left, and then
you pass the demon traffic lights
which are not fit for God nor men
and then proceed to yonder street.
And there, Valhalla you will mark.
‘You king of men!’ he thanked me, and
we parted in the dingy dark.