“What is your earliest memory? Some bleary image from your childhood? Some favourite toy, or place, or person? If you tried to write down what it was, would it sound anything like this?
Red cliffs arise. And up them service lifts
Soar with groceries to silver heights.
Lissenden Mansions. And my memory sifts
Lilies from lily-like electric lights
And Irish stew smells from the smell of prams
And roar of seas from roar of London trams.
Out of it all my memory carves the quiet
Of that dark privet hedge where pleasures breed,
There first, intent upon its leafy diet,
I watched the looping caterpillar feed
And saw it hanging in a gummy froth
Till, weeks on, from the chrysalis burst the moth.
Probably not! But that is one of John Betjeman’s earliest memories as he describes his upbringing in Highgate in the poem N.W.5 and N.6. To hear more of Betjeman’s poems, come along on Lance Pearson's Poetry in Motion tours – dates will be announced at walks.com
POST UPDATED 19/3/16
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.