Not the Georgian City of Jane Austen et al.
The librarian had been occupied all morning it seemed
But finally the counter was clear.
“I’d like some photocopies made please.”
Facts and figures teased from the town’s
She made an affirmative noise and fumbled at a drawer.
“How many copies?”
“No, I’m sorry, how many pages?”
She retreated wordlessly.
I followed carrying the publication hopefully.
At first I was not sure she wanted me to follow,
Neither was she.
We went down the staff stairs,
The main one was being redecorated,
Through the periodical reading room,
And into the entrance lobby.
Where the photocopier lay,
On a table.
After further confusion about exactly what I wanted reproducing
She produced two copies of the first page and nothing of the second.
I pointed this out,
So she repositioned the book,
Operated the machine and out rolled the missing page.
Being concerned with counting the pages she forgot
To turn the machine off,
And knowing no better it copied… nothing
And out came a sheet all in black.
LIVE BIRTHS 995
ILLEGITIMATE LIVE BIRTHS 106
TOTAL LIVE BITHS 1,101
STILL BIRTHS 15
The Landlady’s Monologue:
Cos you know some on em
As ud stay out all night
And when em got back I’d say
‘Why where you bin?’
An e’d say
‘I stopped over at college.’
‘Waa, oo you stopped then with?’ I said
An then e’d say to I
‘I’m not telling ee.’
But I know where e’d been with
But they stoppede al that now
Every night thery lock em in
Then in the morning they stand
An watch em all come out
An make sure they’d aden no un in theyr room.”
In the Royal Victoria Park:
The Cypress tress caresses the earth
With more tenderness than a monthful of marriages
Circling round the Circus:
A passing man gently deflated under pressure
And let out a soft local rasp, “Good morning”
I passed a nurse
As I was walking
Along the Weston Road.
She hurried along wearily,
Minutes to get home, hours to sleep.
Her drooping blue cloak hung heavily
Across her shoulders and hardly moved in her wake.
Her brown hair was tired
And her young face old and tight lipped as she turned into Park Lane.
She looked grim but would rise with the alarm and face it all again.
FATAL ACCIDENTS 160
The Hot Cross Bath stands apart.
Round the corner, down the road, away,
From its more famous Roman Counterpart.
And around its stone set base sweeps litter
And sat upon its crumbling step an old man
In an old coat of indeterminate colour
DEATH BY NATURAL CAUSES 994
If the gravedigger hadn’t stopped me
I would have passed him by without a word.
I’m not Hamlet.
I maintain a careful distant ignorance.
“You can’t get out that way mate.”
“Um?” A blank look
“Where you going?”
I wasn’t really going anywhere.
“Well go straight down there,”
Between the graves
“Till you come to the path,”
Root ridged asphalt
“Then turn right and out through the gate.”
Scabby cast iron
“Straight down, right at the path, out through the gate?”
TOTAL DEATHS 1,210
High above the town
On Claverton Down
At the American Museum.
“Are you closing yet?”
“No last admissions at 5.30.”
“OK admission for one please.”
“Are you from America?”
“Whereabouts in America do you come from?”
“No, I don’t er…. Oh… um… er… New York”
“Would you like to sign our visitors book then?”
“No I can’t I er….
“And put your address…”
“No I can’t, sorry, sorry….”
BATH TOTAL POPULATION 84,870
It rained most of that day.
October 2nd. 1971