Winstanley  Estate

The ocean washed me down Wandsworth road

On to this archipelago of tower blocks;

These desert islands which became a kind of paradise

Because now it always feels like home wherever I am washed


It was a strange paradise this land of giants.

The chaos swirled through in dark currents

Murders, illness, rape and disablity

Eddying round the dogged homes of quiet faith


Yet at times the quiet would pervade all

In the blanketing of surprising snow

Or in the stillness of a chill December night:

A pure wind of God, icy and straight and true.

A Library on Ingrave Street

The library sat quietly amongst the gray giants

Flanked by the cautious battlements of my church

And the humdrum struggles of the York square shops.

It was an island of books amid a sea of the spoken word


The big windows brought a quiet light to its learning

While the old read newspapers

And the young sought diversion from their boredom.

I wandered here to escape the loneliness of bachelordom.


It was a haven

And a treasure trove

And an ocean of learning to travel endlessly.

It was everything a library should be.


And in the hall a toddler group bustled

While the school crocodile pitter-pattered

To story time in the children's library

And the head librarian sat on our management committee


It was not grand like the central library

Refitted and bright with the buzz of book readers

But it served our community

Which endured books as a necessary distraction from life.


They closed it of course.

As they had closed the children's library on the neighbouring estate

But no sit-in now, just the acceptance of the inevitable:

If you don't read books you don't deserve a library.


Now I visit and the library is squeezed into the community centre

(Itself an overblown failure: capital expenditure exceeding revenue funding)

And the square is left empty,

The big windows blacked, my thoughts sad

And my heart angry.