Things being various

As seen in Aberystwyth this summer. Having just discussed the tawdry splendour of Asbury Park, it seemed appropriate to mention Aber. Aber is, of course, much grander than AP, being a strange mingling of seaside resort and university town. But the first time I visited and strolled along the front, it was oddly familiar, comforting even. I knew where I’d washed up; I could face west and scan the Atlantic for signs of home.

There’s something comforting too about knowing you can get chips with just about anything; the heady scent of salt and vinegar that fills the air (and mixes with the salt of the sea), unlike the sickly sugar-spun cotton candy and toffee popcorn atmosphere of the Jersey shore.

Thinking about the various permutations of chip suppers available in this picture also reminds me of a lecture given by the architectural critic Jonathan Glancey on ‘found poems’ in London, illustrated with slides showing blackboards outside cafes offering similar permutations (adding tomato, bacon, fried bread, black pudding, etc. to the equation), but also the destination boards on the fronts of buses, City street names like Threadneedle and Cheapside and Puddling Lane.

I’ve managed to move from the Jersey shore to the Welsh coast to the centre of London in just a few short sentences! These places are linked for me by my movements through them, and away from them (as Bachelard says, 'our past is situated elsewhere’). I carry little snippets of these places with me, my mental scrapbook, and I spread them before me when I think of ideas for poems. There are endless permutations …