After Les Miserables

Lead me on from the Palace Theatre

Disgorging itself of a satisfied crowd

Entertained by the emotions of life

Confronting the barricades of difference

In the struggle for a better way.


Lead me on past the square for the good of the family [1] 

Entertaining itself now behind barricades of steel

As blades of grass push through consolidated ice

While the pavements choke with stubs and joints

Smouldering dreamily in criminalized fun.


Lead me on through London's Chinatown

Where characters vie with letters

On a call box filled with numbers of girls

Whose life could be more than two four six zero one [2]

Released from the barricade of lust.


Lead me on down the street of Cantabrian scorn [3]

To the circus of Oxonian contempt [4]

Where pedestrians are mourned [5]

For the futility of scaling the fence

Ignoring the little red man.


Lead me on to Champolian's stone [6]

Where the characters are understood as words

Intelligible to the enquiring, inquisitive mind

Making sense of the jigsaw of life

As the barricade of misunderstanding disappears


Lead me on [7] past the barricades of despair

Where the isolating loneliness of a channel [8]

Forces me into confrontation

And I mount ancestral barricades [9]

Waving the red flag of love.


5 January 2000

Les Miserables Website


[1] Leicester Square

[2] 24601 was Jean Val Jean's prisoner number

[3] Oxford Street

[4] Cambridge Circus and its high rate of pedestrian fatality

[5] The death of the British girl at Table Mountain Cable station today

[6] The linguist who unravelled the Rosetta Stone, in the British Museum not far from the theatre

[7] 'Lead me on' were the haunting phrases of the concluding song.

[8] The English Channel which separates us from Europe

[9] Reference to our French ancestry