Splashing, bouncing, Victorian-fountained water awakes the once multi-gated city, newly but anciently royally blessed.
“Eh, ‘up mi duck” Anglo-Saxon refrains pierce the air; the chorus contrapuntal with the ringing rhythm of feet, an advance legion, pilgrim-like trudging to the temples of commerce or to the plain chapels of more honest work.
A bundle stirs in the doorway of an abandoned, desolate shop; sleep a luxury that no money can buy. It is as if nylon, rayon, dumped upon man-made fibres find the life that the creature cocooned within struggles to maintain.
Attracting pity and contempt in non-equal measure and coated in its purgatory, this sexless creature determines itself a grub, but still more fortunate than the stranger from a foreign land, met yesterday, not blessed with the grub’s only possession; Britishness.
In thanks, the grub recites a prayer:
Lord, bless me for seeing another day,
I know I am ignorant of your way,
Though I not be worthy of your good grace,
You have for reason chosen this, my place,
My betters deserve your best attention,
But forgive me if this once I mention,
That hard is the bed upon which I lie
Thank the angels for not passing our souls by.
In the distance, the sound of trains, speeding, slowing, stopping is heard. Ant-like they swarm from the station, some under double caution, and others turning green to red on single track to their temple or chapel termini. The grub spins this way and that, a withered white, thin tentacle outstretched, but is invisible to all but itself.
Unbeknown to the formicary, looking down on the fiefdom from his ivory tower, monument to art of a bygone age, a face, janused, issues its own prayer to civic pride, misnomer for man’s personal glory. The prayer complete, the face smiles and unperturbed goes off to ensure it looks to the future; forgetting with slippery ease cabs black as mambas slithering through crowded streets, passers-by bothered, bewildered, bored until attention elsewhere, the voices raised in protest are ignored. Now the blue and white kings, known throughout the world, with majesty royal buried deep bring forth the dream of butterflies, note-like, fluttering before his eyes; on each wing a pound sign their homage.
Semper Eadem, Janus whispers to himself, Semper Eadem. But in the shadows near to this self-made palace of his desires, DeMontfort, Newton, Wyygeston, White, always steadfast, autocrats all, look down, smiling stone cracks where once commandingly their black-teethed mouths uttered. Their influence stayed, these petrified guardians stand silent, whilst monstrosity to metamorphosis, the grub lies back within its cocoon and listens to the sounds of the refrain from within its shell: Semper Eadem, Semper Eadem. Always the same; always the never-ending, never forgiving same.