FLATS WITH A VIEW
LOOKING UP TO THE BALCONY
I TWIG THE VIEW IS ME
I regularly ride through Dinas on my bike. Like all cyclists I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected. Not because I’m in Dinas but because I’m a cyclist and people like to surprise us with friendly abuse and other missiles. Approaching the flats one day from the Penygraig hill, I build up a head of steam when I am more than slightly surprised to be overtaken by a skateboard. It’s not so much the sheer speed that alarms me, it’s the fact that it’s carrying four small flame haired children. They are hollering and waving like a pack of marauding apaches chasing down the Western Express. I am so convinced that they are about to leap aboard , gag and bind me and commandeer the bike that I overshoot the turning, mount the pavement, career down the banking, trampoline over the railway line and end up hanging over the riverbank
This time I arrive by car painfully aware that I could be about to ask a band of renegade apache children to write Japanese poetry. Reputation is a formidable barrier but once inside the community flat it’s blown to bits. It’s a hive of activity; computers, walls and rooms buzz with creativity. And no one is wearing war paint. Community worker Nicola and her volunteers coral a livewire gang of kids into a room with me and my flipchart. However keen they look, I’m certain as soon as I mention haiku they will interpret it as some martial arts command and with a concerted volley of kung fu kicks send me head first through the flip chart. I breathe in, arm myself with a magic marker and say the word. Silence, then cacophony.
For some inexplicable but probably fortuitous reason I’m unable to pronounce haiku and the word I end up saying is Christmas and suddenly the magic marker is trailing a blue blur across the pages. The kids unleash a barrage of festive words, images and thoughts and the flip chart flips into overdrive. After half an hour we have a Christmas smogasborg before us. All we have to do is turn it into a poem. Well as Geronimo once said, sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t. In Dinas they have the magic. In fifteen minutes, a motley bag of random words have been moulded into a freshly minted poem. It might not be haiku; but it’s theirs. I think they’re pleased. I know I am. As I walk out into the night, looking for flaming arrows, I’m sure I see a flash of ginger up on the balcony and what I’m convinced was a hand making a sign of peace. I think I could be a blood brother,
IT MUST BE CHRISTMAS
JOB CENTRES LOOKING FOR SANTAS
MUST BUY LESS, NOT DRINK MORE
CRISP AND CLEAN, BLUE AND GREEN
TIME FOR MYSELF SO I CAN DREAM
AWESOME FUN, SAD AND MAGIC
As I drive past the four grey blocks, one of my own begins to take shape.
FIRST LIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS
WE SCAN THE WALLS FOR EARLY SIGNS
ODDS ON FOR DINAS
October the first, an unconfirmed sighting. Man unravelling a tangle of wires from his window.