The House on the Bridge

Flight path of the powerful overhead,

Waterway of gentle leisure alongside,

Discarded flotsam bobbing between the grace

Of swans, not yet recycled

For the royal table.


Her majesty's standard flies from the tower

As she peeps sternly over the ramparts

To watch two diners collect memories,

Savouring joys between courses

At the House on the Bridge.


Christopher Wren looks from across the bank,

Framed by the casement of design,

Frowning at the post-modern thought

Of Peter's walk from St Paul's and Goldman Sachs

Past another house on the bridge.


Another meal and another course

Shared together over a menu of memory,

As Africa's avocados end with England's strawberries

And cuisine floating across continents

In the distant smell of chapattis.


And the Eton choir raise their voices

With mystic sounds from Henry's Chapel

Bounced over cobbled streets

Echoing old music out of lines and spaces

Into the stillness of the flowing stream.


In the mind's ear there are squeals of delight

From Chillingham children beyond Bagshot,

As the joys of childhood continue

With the generosity of another generation

Floating downstream eternally to another day.


Surrounded by the rich and famous,

With scurrying waiters presenting the bill,

We rise to leave, and grandma smiles benignly

From her own house on the bridge

For the briefest glance of approval.


July 2001


With appreciation to Catherine and Steve for a wonderful gift celebrating M's birthday in the Windsor restaurant - The House on the Bridge.

Notes: Windsor is under the Heathrow flight-path; Wren's house is directly opposite the House on the Bridge; controversy has raged over the design of the new IHQ; we passed a group of Asian picnickers as we walked to the restaurant.