Who will join me on the diesel to Easton,
Taking the train to Stapleton Road,
From Clifton Down and its bourgeois delights?
It won’t be the mothers with hi-spec babies,
In hi-spec buggies that crowd out the floors
Of Clifton cafes and delicatessens.
Their designer clutch bags bulging with purpose
And arnica sprays.
It won’t be the shoppers with their gluten-free habits,
Who grill the retailers about the food history
Of the crisps and flapjacks they seek to consume.
They’ll be lucky to get any change from a tenner,
As they pay for their mid-morning treats.
Who will join me on the diesel to Easton?
It won’t be the schoolgirls in Clifton High’s tartan,
With their push-up bras that have little to push,
Whose piercing voices and Oh! my God screeches
Reveal a vacuum that nature’s abhorring.
It won’t be the women in Jimmy Choo shoes,
Whose feet have been nibbled by red sucker fish,
As they sit for their treatments in beauty spa outlets.
And it won’t be the schoolkids with their violin cases
And their perfect PowerPoint homework assignments
That Mummy and Daddy have slaved to complete.
Because when you alight at Stapleton Road,
The language, the colour, the costumes, the smells
Welcome you into a country of countries,
As different from Clifton as fish is from fowl.
Here the streets are a mixture of Halal and Rasta,
Of Sikh and Christian, the godless as well.
There are cultural centres for faiths and non-faiths.
There are mosques and temples and Methodist chapels.
There’s a food shop that sells: six species of Yam;
Fish from the Ganges; and rice by the sack-load;
Fruit from Jamaica; and pickles from Poland;
Green ladies fingers; and baskets of naan.
Here beauty shops crow about beads and cornrows,
Relaxers, straighteners and human-hair wigs.
What is the price of such beauty,
As striking as any seen in the salons of Clifton?
There’s no Oxfam bookshop on Stapleton Road,
But a fancy goods store sells Holy Qur’ans,
Prayer mats and prayer hats mixed in with dusters,
Ironing board covers and waste paper baskets.
In Easton’s cafes the men sit and chatter,
Quite relaxed in the fleeting moment of home.
Sipping coffees costing half of a latte,
If bought in the purlieus of Whiteladies Road.
Who will join me on the diesel to Easton
And purchase a ticket to Stapleton Road?
Where cultures are swirling and pennies are counted
And home is Bristol and miles away.