Father Thames - Fog of 1988

Old Father Thames stood proud and grand,
Poseidon's trident right there in his hand,
and how the fog calls the meandering flow,
serpent like river so few really know.

Murmuring people call all around,
the drinks flowed smoothly and songs came out loud,
singing along by the banks of high tide,
A fire it glowed so it's warmth scorched my hide.

Now the swaying drinks caught the ripple of night,
one such fell in dying in fright,
but the ebb and the flow it whispered so sound,
they tried to find him the corpse ne'r found.

In such a night time the waves praise the stars,
whilst lost souls gather far from all cars,
swirling of waves and the fog now does grow,
no home had they just stars that did show.

Reflections on waves sent by old Thames,
our father for all flows round the bends,
bending on by the serpent like trawl,
seen in the distance it echoes to all.

Old Father Thames guard me these nights,
without a bed I sleep here in fright,
by the banks of the Thames here I stay,
cardboard boxes warm me this day.

Lying and listening to the singing of tide,
commotions and drunks shout whilst I hide,
the glint of a knife and the swigging of meths,
reduce folk to nothing and nothing is left.

A shout and a scream and a man he falls,
screaming and running a woman she calls,
her partner lies his life seeps till bled,
why did he come was he out of his head?

Still those gathered sing where they sit,
warmed hands by fire and cider they hit,
weathered are eyes and they turn to the sky,
till night time and fog denies those who spy.

Oh Father of night time and father of sea,
watch over us now and keep us all free,
the flow of life and the circling times,
flow as one as Big Ben now chimes.
© Andrew Siddle - All rights reserved

Meaning of poem - Andrew Siddle


In pagan times Londoners used to assign a spirit God name to the meandering serpent like trawl of the favourite river in London. It is said that this could have originally been taken from an older deity such as Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea, or maybe some earlier Egyptian God of the Seas. Who knows!


People can be homeless for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this is permanent and sometimes this is temporary for people who are between one stage of life and another in some way. In summer 1988 I witnessed life by the side of the banks of the River Thames for a short while. Meths drinkers, people so far gone from drinking meths that they were barely human beings anymore. Stabbings, and people falling to their deaths into the Thames whilst intoxicated. I will always remember the constant sound of the flow of the waves of the Thames. Also the sound and smell and warmth of a down and out’s warm fire. It is striking that the real culture of London often does not reveal itself until an experience like this occurs. The maritime culture that hides beneath, and still persists in some ways, the sharp pressed briskness of the business community. Everything else is just bling!


© Andrew Siddle - All rights reserved


(That is not to say that my only experience of London is living rough....Im an ex resident of Teasal Way which is close to West Ham tube station on the District Line; the green one on the underground map!!!! ...I also have an Islington base for a variety of small business and publishing actvities) 😉