The first home of your own

The first home of your own

Do you remember yours?
Mine was in Bardwell Road,
a top flat in a big house,
entered through a thick curtain
with a bell on it.

The space inside was perfect,
because it was ours.
The kitchen had a shelf outside the window
instead of a fridge,
a wooden draining board that smelled bad,
and a gas cooker from the ark;
we rejoiced in it all.

In winter it was unbelievably cold.
I tried to heat my room with a paraffin stove
called Humphrey.
I learned to warm my hands
round my mug of tea in the morning.

A small group of us created our home here:
an extraordinary swirl of affection,
words, and attitudes, constantly refined.

We filled the space with exotica:
a stream of friends and other guests,
bringing themselves and their strangeness
to be imbibed and digested.
An engineer called Annabel
made us a kedgeree.

Mrs Nimmo-Smith sat in her kitchen
on the ground floor, with cats and dogs,
and received our monthly rent cheque.

In the end it all came to an end.
We finished it with Titanic,
a going down party.

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