Monday, 28 January 2013

Hometown


Cardigan, west Wales


I realised recently that the small town near where I live in Wales today has some strong similarities  to how my hometown was around 40 to 50 years ago when I was growing up in south east England.  There is a big difference, of course, in the cultural background and language. But there are still many similarities and sometimes it looks as if Cardigan is going the same way as my old home town – and that would be very sad. So I wrote this…

Hometown

You used to be fun to be with.

Cardigan's High Street. Still full of little shops.

We had so many good days,
romping in your woods and fields,
playing in all the outside ways.

We bought iced buns in Simon’s bakery,
sherbet fountains in Bunty’s sweet shop.
There was a fish shop, a butcher, a chippy,
and a grocery store with bottles of pop.

But you have changed, hometown.

There was always loads to do and see,
plenty of theatre, fairs and events.
Your pubs and cafes were smoky full.
We never had trouble with malcontents.

We had a great common with lakes,
a park, with swings and slides.
We called our cinema the flea pit,
but there was plenty to do besides.

How you have changed, hometown.

There was a swimming pool and bowling alley,
the youth clubs buzzed to the beat of the day.
There was a police station and a library.
Our town met all our needs in every way.

Our meeting point by the chestnut tree
was one of our most favourite places.
We smoked our first cigarettes there,
Tested illicit alcohol and generally got off our faces.

We called you ‘the village’ and everyone knew everyone.
We walked to school alone, no need of chaperone.
You had it all, little hometown.
Oh how you have changed.

When we were very small we ran to
wait on the footbridge over the railway,
where the flying Scotsman would rush beneath us
as we waved her on her steaming way.

The railway has a different meaning now.
When Thatcher’s army developed and grew,
slowly you became a soulless place,

Cardigan Guildhall

hometown, as they took the heart out of you.

Whizz-kid loadsamoney troops
hustle and bustle to catch the train,
just 20 minutes to the castles of commerce -
double your money and come home again.

Oh hometown how you have changed.

The bankers took over the little place,
they built estates of six bed homes,
decimated our community and now
they only talk on their mobile phones.

There is no police station, no youth club,
the cinema site is covered in flats.
Gone is the greengrocer, sweet shop and newspaper.
The library is closed, now it’s a shelter for rats.

Oh hometown how you have changed.

Estate agents and charity shops fill your centre.
As supermarkets and chainstores suck the life out…
Your pubs and clubs are dark and desolate,
As night after night there is no one about.

Our meeting tree is pollarded,
no-one waits there now.
The community is faded; and
as all is sacrificed to the great cash cow.