The Wasted Land

First I spotted the children’s playground just off Clifford Avenue

Empty: that’s wasted real estate that is! Why’s it not sold? I mused.

Then I drove past Mortlake Cemetery on Lower Richmond Road:

Now that’s totally wasted real estate! (Except the crematorium, I suppose).

Up and over broad Chiswick Bridge, which spans the thickening Thames,

One crew rowing only; neither river boats nor barges came through my lens.

Turning from the A316 into “Riverside Drive”, I waited for just a bicycle

It’s like bloody North Korea… are we a land of the hammer and the sickle?

A hundred allotments to my left, but tending them? Not a sorry soul.

At Duke’s meadow next the Thames, a golf course – of 18 empty holes.

Cricket, football, rugby pitches, grass and astroturf – but no bloody teams.

I saw rows of netball courts, and tennis too – battered, hanging at the seams

A dilapidated bandstand, but for what? A stretch of grass, an acre wide

A rowing club, a jetty, hundred miles of river path, just to run and ride.

Bloody hell! I thought. Did Thatcher never happen? Does no one understand?

It’s real estate, it’s money, my God my God it’s downright wasted land.

Driving back, traffic free, I checked my eyes, to see if it was true;

The allotments, pitches, cemeteries, playgrounds, roads – all unused.

This country’s going to waste! A land of unsold real estate, by the lorry-load.

Approaching home, defeated, driving quietly up the Woodview Road

I saw parking space after parking space, vacant, all along the Green,

Turned into my road, stopped before my house, and began to scream

Is everything sacred? Does nothing have a price? Can a free Land be great?

Sunday morning, modern Britain: no cars, miles of wasted real estate.


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