This is where the gulls assemble at night
to hold their raucous caucus:
on the roof of the National Railway Museum.
Squabbling over yesteryear’s holiday machines.
And from here, if you turn to six o’ clock,
you’ll see the trains of now,
braking or accelerating across the bridge.
The station. So familiar and steady
that you can look at pictures from 70 years ago
and feel like you could step right into it –
the protective-but-grand ceiling,
the impossible cosiness
and the clean, open platforms.
And in the near-distance, the Roman Walls.
The Principal Hotel sticks up stout
in a square-built, yellow-brick tower,
wrapped in staircases
whose elegant embrace reminds me of Paris.
Closer up, the car park and the back route in,
fronted with the departures board
which always gives me that giddy sense of adventure.
Have you packed everything?
This corner is one of my favourites –
not for tourists, who only pause here
to perform frowns and ask directions –
but to me it is the site of so many meeting places.
For a casual coffee date, or a time-check
on my nightly route to the theatre,
the place to hug my friend Eliza goodnight
after setting the world straight
over indulgent hot chocolates,
or aimless wanderings
between high street windows.
If I’m feeling sociable, I’ll take the footpath,
where you share the meter’s width,
and make way for cyclists and buggies.
Just before the footbridge,
adorned in the freshest street art,
peer through the iron fence,
and brush at the enticing wilderness,
the weed-sprouting concrete.
They’re building on it now, of course,
but you can still strive to see through the portacabins –
They’re made of paper, really, anyway.
If you get lost, look for the Tourist Information sign
behind St. Paul’s Square.
Don’t worry – all paths lead to home.
Once you reach the school
you’ll meet our cul-de-sac path.
And, if you’re lucky, Harry –
the neighbourhood heartthrob, fed at every door.
A gentle old ginger-and-white soul
with only affection for all,
and a deceptive fragility
that allows him regular catches,
bigger than you could imagine.
A regular Six Dinner Sid.
Follow his trot to my door.
Bring him in, if you like, have a cuddle!
Welcome to York.
The kettle’s on – how d’you take your tea?
Anna Rose James (Adapted by Ruth Yates)