Sunday 10 January 2010

The Newarke Houses Museum

The Newarke Houses Museum
January 7th 2010

You step from this Leicester street
to Wharf Street in 1946
where there are no people only taped voices
such as the two women in the corner shop
who complain about the weather,
that you can’t get potatoes
because of the snow and even though
rationing’s over it’s hard to get flour.
This shop’s well-stocked: Camp coffee,
Oxo, home-cured ham. A fat loaf.
Cardinal Polish that ‘won’t wash off in the rain’.
In the pub a man orders his usual mild and bitter.
That’s it, its dregs, on the mantelpiece.
The clock’s stuck at twenty five past five
and on the wall, the Victory edition
of the News Chronicle and adverts for boxing
at Spinney Hill Working Men’s Club.
Soft gloves dangle from a shelf
in the haberdasher’s like bagged game.
Nothing’s dishevelled. There’s the ping
of goods being sent along rails.
In the pawnbroker’s jet necklaces
rest near an amethyst brooch. Golf clubs
sidle next to a brolly. Some woman’s
town shoes have been placed at angles
as if they are are setting off on a journey
and will not be returning. I leave when
the voices begin to repeat themselves.
Post-war, a boom time’s ahead,
but no-body sensed it in Wharf Street,
winter, 1946. Outside it's still freezing.