Gas Street Basin

In Birmingham early for a business meeting, I found myself whiling away the time at the Gas Street Basin on the Birmingham and Worcester canal. It had been the haunt of my first canal holiday way back in the seventies. Redeveloped over the years, only the canal remained the same: the same shape, the same water.

Was it really all so long ago? And where were the years in between?

Gas Street Basin


Forty years                       misplaced.

Brushed aside 

like the branch that snagged Stuart’s glasses 

and casually flipped them slow-motion 

into canal-dark water at the last-morning tiller

between here and somewhere else.


Years dissolving             inexplicably 

as a gentle wake

resolves back into nothing but a ripple 

perfecting the tried and tested ruse

of leaving not a trace of our recent passing 

for the silent boats that follow.


In harsh shadows          ghostly

memories dance 

memories of mooring ropes and narrow bunks

and pubs driven from soft focus

to something they didn’t used to be

trapped perhaps in their own navigation.


Barley wine.              Skittles.

Courses charted.

Uncertain fragments now wistfully recalled

as the unexpected bequest of an unplanned stroll

spectres on the Gas Street towpath

after all these rapidly accelerating years.