Lucy Vickery

Station to station

In Competition No. 3123 you were invited to submit a poem that begins ‘By Waterloo Station I sat down and …’.
Some of you begged, some swore, others slept. But most, in a pleasingly sizable entry, took their lead from weeping Elizabeth Smart. There was a welcome influx of newcomers this week, alongside the familiar names, and the tone ranged from the comic to the poignant.
Honourable mentions go to Paul Freeman, Gloria Brown, Ian Barker, Tim Raikes and Alan Millard. The winners below pocket £30 each and include George Simmers’s natty twist on Matthew Arnold’s friend Arthur Hugh Clough’s ‘Dipsychus’ (‘How Pleasant It Is to Have Money…’).

By Waterloo Station I sat down and prayed
that the 2.10 to Bruton would not be delayed;
it’s beastly at Eastleigh, it’s tangled at Wool,
and lately at Grateley the toilets are full.
The shambles at Hamble’s a blot on the line,
and folks down at Pokesdown have started to whine;
they’re surly at Earley and grumpy at Fleet,
and from Havant they haven’t a standard-class seat.
It’s simple at Whimple: the network’s a hash,
it’s choking at Woking, it’s smoking at Ash;
at Oxshott the clock’s not in time with the trains
which are filthy at Hilsea and squalid by Staines.
At Clandon abandon all hope for the day
for the track’s bent at Bentley and buckled at Sway;
from Wareham to Fareham there’s been a malfunction,
so I’m walking from Dorking to Effingham Junction.
Nick MacKinnon
By Waterloo Station I sat down and reckoned —
‘By’, notice, not ‘in’, ‘on’ or ‘at’:
My timing was perfect, spot-on to the second
(I’ve long been a stickler for that.)
I went through my anorak pockets: a toffee
Appeared, somewhat hirsute with fluff,
Plus a fifty-pence coin; ‘I quite fancy a coffee,
That’s sure to be more than enough.’
I’m one of those fellows who don’t mind a wait,
Within reason, ten minutes or so;
She’d said quite emphatically, ‘Meet me at eight.

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