This is a poem that I wrote the bones of and then lost in Spring last year. I recently discovered it again when looking through documents on my phone. I was looking for a birthday present list for my wife, which I thought I might have made on my phone. I found it, but I also found some ominous untitled documents. Most were useless, but one of them was almost a poem.
I’d written this while we went around a North Yorkshire theme park on a day out, which for me is an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Unfortunately, I am in no way, shape or form any kind of thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie (what an awful expression that is, by the way). Thus, I found myself standing at the bottom of many rides, rapidly tiring of people watching and running out of the guts I felt I needed in order to tread my book while others queued up for the kind of fun that I didn’t understand. People were beginning to point, children were beginning to laugh…
And so, as far as I can remember, I began to think about how I must look to other people around the park. That is, if they even noticed me. If they did though, I imagined people were nudging each other and whispering stuff like, “There’s that bloke with the book again.” I was also in a perfect position to take note of all of the different kinds of people around the place. Very lonely bored looking bloke here was only one of a ton of different sights and sounds to be had and so my discomfort was eased somewhat by the fact that maybe people had other things to occupy their time. Not wanting to lose any ideas, I started to type them into my phone. Barring a few revisions made when I rediscovered it a year or so later, these notes were what became the poem.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that there can be no lonelier place than a theme park for the man who does not seek to be thrilled. Wandering aimlessly around in the cold, of this Yorkshire spring will make an outcast out of any man. Children's screams far outweigh the fifteen seconds of fear that Andy Warhol might have said we should all experience, wasps hang around menacingly, seeking one last victim before buzzing off south for a proper summer, and fathers stand stock still, balanced and anchored, readying themselves for the thump of returning children from rides with tales of adventures from the moderately high steels. This is a resting place for cheap summer leisure wear and incongruously A-list sunglasses, where gangs of girls from the caravan park roam, arm in arm, almost identically dressed, looking for the thrill that could be found either at the top of a rollercoaster or in the arms of a visiting stranger from a far of land in another part of Yorkshire. A man in camouflaged trousers walks past and I consider that with my imaginary special forces training, I may be the only one who sees him. I wonder if the same applies to me; not camouflaged professionally, but somehow hidden in plain sight on a bench near a queue, reading a book like persona non grata in this particular place.
There’s certainly a lot to see when all you have to do is watch! It was a fascinating day in many ways and yet, criminally dull in others. I tried to just be diligent and read my book, as I’d planned. And of course, I did go on some of the rides. I do kind of see the point in them! But eventually my day just descended into watching life go on around the park, hence the poem.
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