A Study in South Street
There's a man playing the accordion on Elvet Bridge.
His audience are those who sit outside Café Rouge,
twirling wolfish moustaches, with neat, white roll-ups
hanging from their mouths like lollipop sticks.
I catch a few jaunty lines of tune as I cross the Wear,
strangely warmed by this Parisian corner of Durham.
Turning left, I begin the ascent of South Street,
with no known destination in mind - I just want to look.
The cobbles bristle with moss beneath my feet,
almost trying to shrug me off, but I continue the climb.
The Cathedral crouches on my right, a spectre
bathing in its grey and gold spotlights.
There is dark purple paint peeling from
the wooden window shutters of the quiet houses.
I peer through the glass - I know I shouldn't,
but the people here never draw their curtains at night,
and they always leave the living room lights on,
as if they are encouraging curious student stares.
All the rooms are wall-papered with books;
leather-bound volumes fading from green to brown to red.
Brass pans hang over the fireplace and the tables
are covered with white lace. The armchairs are empty;
their scratched, scarred skin reclining without weight.
There is something eerily Victorian about these rooms.
I tell Hugh I know where I want to live when I grow up.
Yes, I could enjoy a mad descent into spinsterhood here;
hiding behind a green door with its bronze lion knocker,
spending nights serenading my cat, whom I will name 'Mr. Rochester'.
I wonder if I would leave the lights on and the curtains open.
One thing I do know; so many people want the extraordinary
out of life, but I would happily settle for an archetypal existence...
As long as I can live on South Street.