Life of A Light

Back in 2015 Leftwing Idiot and I wrote a short relay play called Light Of My Life about the strange relationship I have with the lamp-post I can see from my bedroom window.

We mixed tics with chosen language without identifying which was which. The resulting piece didn’t mention Tourettes at all, but it couldn’t have existed without it.

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, which means it was the longest for the lamp-post. This got me thinking about the lamp-post’s perspective on the world, so I thought I’d try writing the lamp-post’s reply to our play.

A photograph taken at night looking up at a large expanse of dark sky, at the centre is the warm, glowing light of a lamp-post. In the distance the faint silhouette of the bare branches of a tree is visible and a few squares of green, yellow light emanating from a distant block of flats. This is a portrait of a much loved light.

Photo by: Henry Carroll

Each time you read a day of the week, please do a long hard blink.


What do lamp-posts smell like?
Worse than catnip but better than pigeons’ toes.
A good lamp-post knows the smell of an office party
And the perfume of a jogger’s personal best

Standing on a street corner opposite the bins
Next to a TV aerial who’s been unemployed since 1994
I smell London’s air
Threaded with a million scents and moments of sense

This lamp-post has no nose
How does it smell then?
With toes curled into a lace of colourful wires
A doyley of power

Roses clamber over the fence
And bits of grit settle like cement


Each night I glow up, exactly as before
Stretching to the wooden door, over the cracked flagstones
1000 cat paws square
To beam or not to beam? That is my function

By day a pole in graphite grey
By night a loch of light,
Crossed by rats and flocks of shopping bags
Carried in strong hands and weak winds

I see speeding bikes and watch paint dry
In a million blues
People hurry and dogs take the piss
I watch toddlers look up

My light is predictable
The life I see in it is not


Overheard by lamp-post
There’s a chopper over-head and a pigeon gently snoring
In the distance buses rumble
I hear them through our common ground

A fight

I heard the pigeon fart
Shattered glass
A toddler’s laugh
Biscuits waving at me through the breeze

I could have been in Riverdance
But Michael Flatly never called


What’s everyone having for dinner?
The pigeons are eating cigarette butts… again
The roof moss guzzles moisture
The TV aerial has a taste for power

Heron House stands tall
A solid lump of fragments
A line-dance of washing lines and light
Pots and pans clang in far-off rooms

Flat 4 are having pasta
Number 3 Deliveroo
Flat 2 are eating Wotsits
And shouting biscuits, just as they normally do

I am a lamp-post
So I don’t eat dinner


I’m feeling sad for London
For those that need the state
I’m feeling old election flyers
Ripped off my heavy leg

Lamp-post bikini wax appreciation service
William Blake speaking
He had angels in the trees
But it’s the shadows of champions that move beneath me

I feel my roots
Hard wired into my community
Don’t change the bulb
Change the system

Night, night London, I love you
I’m going to dance in the dark with the stars while you sleep.

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