Wormwood isn’t here

The sign said, rather waspishly.

It wasn’t the Wormwood I remembered;

Scrubs Lane on a wet Sunday

The outback in West London

No buses, no cars, no people

Just limp grass, acres of the stuff

And, oh yes, the finest redbrick edifice

Victoria’s henchmen could construct.

No rotting bodies in here, my friend.

Not Newgate, not by a long shot

Though debts must still be paid

And some may still get laid

Lord Alfred Douglas lay here,

As did Charles Bronson,

Keith Richards, Leslie Grantham.

And  George Blake

Scurrying along in his traitor’s gait

Till the day he pole-vaulted to freedom

More or less

Before waving goodbye

To his English life,

His liberty and his wife

And all those Wormwood scrubbers


3 thoughts on “DOWN SCRUBS LANE

  1. You’ve set me thinking with this one Tom, and looking at maps and photos online too: Wormwood Scrubs is not in Scrub Lane, and the picture is of Leicester Prison! But the ex-cons are real enough. And the memories of that limp grass too I guess. An air of mystery and an atmosphere of nostalgia! Down Scrubs Lane sounds like “down memory lane” in these lines!


  2. You are quite right John. But if you walk down Scrubs Lane – now A219 – you eventually come to Wormwood Scrubs Park, and the prison is on the other side of that. I lived in that area of London for a long time and often took that walk. And I have been in there, as a performer! Though I do recall shaking the hands of the Kray twins in there in the dim and distant past. But that’s another story!
    As for the picture, I think it was a slip of the finger. It’s definitely not WS!

    ordered your book bytw.


  3. You’ve been in there as a performer! My word, that must have been a challenge. I’m mightily impressed. And I’ve been back to the map and see what you mean. I like the poem too. (And thanks so much for ordering The Human Hive).


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