‘I am not afraid as I descend…’

A much loved painted poem in Waterloo Underpass was callously painted over when ‘maintenance’ was carried out on the tunnel by Network Rail.  

 ‘Eurydice‘ written by Sue Hubbard, and commissioned by the Arts Council and British Film Institute, has been delighting passers-by for nine years.  the underpass before

Sue has been working hard to sort out what many consider an act of vandalism. The Facebook Campaign to Put the Poem back in Waterloo Underpass has over 900 members and is still growing.

Whilst it seems likely that, with much effort on her part, Sue may gain permission from Network Rail, part-owners of the property, to restore the poem, no funds from the culprits are to be forthcoming.

In fact, if, as one of the Facebook campaigners suggested, a lot of poets rallied and ‘devandalized’ the underpass, ie, re-painted the poem, I rather doubt there would be any complaints, as then Network Rail would be bothered no longer, and the poem would be restored at no cost to them.the underpass after

The poem adds a sparkle of Old-London magic to an otherwise dreary postmodern walkway. Though the poem itself is not hundreds of years old, its presence on the dank walls of the tunnel make passers-by feel as if they have briefly stepped into a time which swirls between the ancient Romans and Charles Dickens.

It is tragic that the poem should have been destroyed so ruthlessly, but there is hope that it may be restored. Therein lies the transient power of words. And perhaps, if the Campaign succeeds, there will be some poetic justice in the fact that not one but two paintings of the poem would grace the wall, in layers, as is the way of London.

In Time Out London, Rebecca Taylor covers the ‘mysterious’ disappearance of the poem in further detail, mentioning that the poem was featured as one of London’s gems in Time Out’s ‘Best of London’ September issue.

Linnean Society talk & reading

On 5th November (yes, Bonfire Night!) I was honoured to speak at the Linnean Society of London.

The talk blended readings of poems from Darwin’s Microscope as well as from Ted Hughes, Richard Tyrone Jones and Talvikki Ansel.

This reading/talk ended with some excellent discussion, followed by a jolly dinner with the delightful President, a few other LinSoc members, and my husband Dani.

There is a review of the event on the Linnean Society website.

It was quite a thrill to stand in the very room where Darwin’s & Wallace’s ideas were first announced (to a notably unenthusiastic audience at the time, it must be said). To my left was the great picture of Darwin, looking balefully out over the more animated audience.

It is said that Darwin wished, towards the end of his life, that he’d read more poetry. Happily, my talk was warmly welcomed by the current members of the Linnean Society.