Bristol, Last Friday: The air is half filled with thinning flakes of snow wavering without conviction towards the pavement. Skate boarders do occasional little hops onto the seats round the statue of Queen Victoria, down the bottom of Park Street, but mainly they stand and hold their boards in their hands. The shoppers only seem half ready to buy, and in the shops behind the warm curtain of wasted heat, the sales assistants seem reluctant to part with the contents of their shelves.
At the top of Park Street a crowd is gathered around a few yellow jacketed police, but nobody is on the ground, no broken glass, so it is not an accident. I ask a Chinese person if it is a demonstration. "No" he says, "The Queen is coming to lay a stone".
I wait for a minute but see no Queen and nowhere to lay a stone. All the stones are already laid. There are no anarchists waving black flags , but no union flags either. I decide I can see the Queen on telly any time I want. I go into a warm cafe and write a poem, because I am after Andrew Motions's job.
Lines to Commemorate
The Royal Visit
to Bristol in February 2005
A cold wind blew with snowy sleet
as up the hill I strode
right to the top of old Park Street
the bottom of Queen’s Road.
I found a crowd of people there
with cops in shiny yellow
and as they had a focused air
I thought it was a demo.
“What is this gathering all about?”
“What kind of protest is it?”
“We’re waiting ‘til the Queen comes out,
she’s on a royal visit”
I looked about but saw no crown
I waited for a minute
then went and wrote this doggerel down,
a load of rubbish innit?
(c) Richard Lawson 27 Feb 2005