from Happy Hour In Herne Hill

Two figures cruise through the afternoon fog,
hoods up, backs arched, heads upright and alert,
toes nudging BMX pedals a quarter click,
tyres turning the pace of a pit bull sneaking up
on a squirrel for the tenth time that day,
ears tuned for the treble of hoity toity chatter
of spoilt arrivistes that still go to school.
The Herne Hill Forum will soon fizzle with mild alert.
Tell your kids to come straight home with their iPhones pocketed,
come home to seasonal ragu, to the Au Pair's humility,
where the mortgage is paid and the forsythia’s in bloom.
Oh what a ripple they will send, these BMX boys
with their hand-me-down sportswear and their balls half dropped,
snatching phones from gloved hands then raring off,
caning the pedals as Phoebe whinnies through the speaker
about plans to plonk a Tesco by the Sainsbury's Local
while Brixton, yes Brixton, gets a Waitrose!

They are boys that never knew the guiding hand of a father
They are image library avatars for broken Britain
They are victims failed by the education system
They are toerags in need of a fucking slap
They are taking the cha-cha-cha out of chav
They are almost invisible and so they shall remain

I spotted the pair of them as I left Sunray Gardens,
where a swan set down for a few moments on the pond
before the seagulls sent him packing over brown tiled roofs,
while I knew their game, I didn’t pocket my phone,
I clasped it so the ridges of my broken metacarpals
would whiten with the will to swipe the bumfluff from their chins,
with my trilby and my long coat I could be a Hitchcock villain
if I wasn't pushing daughter in a newly bought MacClaren.

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