Stopping at Stivenage (they said), Finsbury Park, Carshalton Beeches and Ewell East.
Gum on seats. Feet on seats. Games on phones.
Food wrappers under our feet.
Thudding rhythms from earphones – won’t he go deaf soon?
Families and couples staring at phones.
Free newspaper readers. Snoozers.
Blank faces. Stoney stares.
Empty churches. Full graveyards.
Frail folks with zimmers. Dog walkers.
Suburbs and smart cars. No SMART cars.
Sleek Audis and Mercs parked in paved gardens.
Closed curtains and ‘What will the neighbours say?’
Pongy privet. Manicured flower borders.
Pylons and street lights. Smells of diesel and petrol.
Immigrant parakeets. Plaintive pigeons, cawing crows.
Dandelions push through concrete covering the royal deer forest.
Henry VIII rode here.
Hunted, banqueted, grew fat and syphilitic while his subjects starved.
Cuddington Village was razed to build his palace
Now it is nought but a bump in the park.
His banqueting hall sleeps beneath a bed of brambles, big old pines and horse chestnuts
Where people play and picnic and leave their signs:
Plastic and cardboard sullies the mouldering leaf litter and new green shoots
Beneath bright green beeches of Nonsuch Park.