Change at Charing Cross, written by Valerie Valentine at

Change at Charing Cross

Change at Charing Cross

written by: Valerie Valentine


Like paint squeezed across a canvas,
Is the map of London’s Tube.
Look closely, closer, now closer still
Until you see
London’s millions flowing
In and out and along those lines.
Moving, always moving
Forward, back
life shaping, life changing.
Silent, staring people crushed
Into patterns of pleasure or purpose.
Flying fingers print keypad portraits
of lives spelled small
in and out of time.

A pale green pattern
of avarice and ambition,
feeds into the City,
financial heart without a soul.
Platform one
for risk takers, market shakers,
money makers, profit takers.
Platform two,
Bulls chase bears in bowlers and jeans.
The rich get richer
The poor stay poor
Mind the gap
aboard the City Line.

Brown hair, brown clothes,
aisles of beige souls
thinking dull thoughts
on the Bakerloo.
Men dream of bold moves,
former wives, the FA Cup;
women send selfies to
men they’d bed,
wonder what they have missed,
shop Waitrose in their heads.

Laptops open, phones charged,
admen travel the Circle line
round and round
a closed loop of could be’s should be’s.
gliding from one meeting to next
on wheels of frustration.
Move on, move on
vital matters of State like MPs’ pay,
can be heard at Westminster
amidst murmurs of war and
rumours of abuse.
Arthur… ARTHUR!
Don’t miss your train.

Restless to’s and fro’s
criss-cross the District Line.
Two red setters run amok
in St James’s Park.
Aussies and Kiwis neck lagers,
at Earls Court
Talk rugger or cricket and swear a lot.
Move along please.
To where reps from The Mumbles
fumble to grope stockinged thighs
in shabby Paddington hotel bars
before a grey day
and their wives call

Transgender transit for princes, pimps,
a circus of foreign faces,
maps in hand,
wondering what to see
what to do.
The Piccadilly Line
Purses pressed into service
by Knightsbridge nannies
and ladies who lunch
at Harrods – of course.
Armies of shoppers conquer
Covent Garden,
Americans fill St Martin’s Theatre
‘We just must see that Mousetrap while
we’re here my dear.’

Up to the Angel and Camden Town
the Northern Line –
bleak, black,
past its prime
peeling patterns of lives lived hard.
Meat packers, shelf stackers,
builders, PAs,
‘sowf’ London bad boys,
spill onto factory floors
the monotony of monochrome jobs
where time coughs the fun away.

Mapped in colours, curves and lines
The London Underground
Sucks people in
Spits people out
You go with the flow
Meld with a million perfect and perfectly horrid
Lives until one day just
one life, your life,
Smacks you so hard awake
you break the pattern, make your move and
scream ‘no more!’
If not for a sudden all-change epiphany
like this
what else are patterns for?

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