Poems from a Runaway - Running Further (part two)

A poem about running away to London for the first time aged 11/12
Click here for part one

Running Further (part two)

I dart out of the door, and take a sharp left, and then sprint through the nearby alleyway.
I know theres a train station across the road, and plenty of time in the day.
Hope that nobodys seen me and grasses me up, and I dont know what time these trains come.
And only once have I ever even been on a train, when I went to Walsall once with my mum.

 I got to the station, in just a few seconds, and a train had pulled in straight away.
I see theres a lady train guard standing there, so I make my way over and say,
Where does this train go? she then replied Birmingham, so I made my way onto the train,
Hope that nobody sees me, and my heart is now racing, but at the same time I try to act plain.

The train then pulls off, and my hearts beating faster, a mix of excitement and fear,
Im scared that the police might recognise me, and maybe theyll come onto here.
Ive heard that Birmingham is a big place, and that is all I really know,
And no-one will think to look for me there, so that is the place I will go.

I then get a ticket, from the other train guard, hoping no questions are asked,
I pull out a twenty, cuz now I have plenty, and Im leaving this place in the past.
Child ticket? he says, and with yes I reply, and he gives me my ticket and change,
And Im glad that the trains driving so far away, I just want to get out of range.

A few stations after the train stops at Bloxwich, and on my carriage get on two police.
Hope they dont see me, because its inside school hours, but Im wearing my tracksuit and fleece.
Im crapping it now, will they recognise me? Am I about to get caught by a cop?
But luckily they both got off at Walsall, which thankfully was the next stop.

 Past Bescot Stadium, and Tamebridge Parkway, past Villa Park right into Brum,
I wonder by now if the police know that Im missing, reported by my foster mum.
Oh what a big tunnel, Ive never done this, I thought as the train pulls into New Street,
Tried my best to keep normal, and stay inconspicuous, as I got up leaving my seat.

The doors had then opened, I got off the train, and then felt an adrenaline stream,
First time in a city, whilst on my own tod, and the furthest alone that Id been.
I walked behind the commuters, they all seemed in a rush, and then the main hall was where Id got to,
Every time that I saw, a police officers clothes, I tried to stay right out of view.

Convinced that theyd seen me, Id quickly walk on, and then turn my head over my shoulder,
Did not hang about, as I felt I stood out, because everyone around was much older.
Walked outside the station, past some more police, but I didnt spend that much time on the street,
I then turned around, to go back to the shop, to buy myself something to eat.

And then I saw, the departure boards, and on the list I saw Coventry,
And Id been fascinated, by football grounds, when Id see the footy on the TV.
So thats where Ill go, to Coventrys stadium, just have a quick peek from outside,
So I find my way, to the ticket office, and go on to pay for my ride.

Back through the manned gates, and down to the train, on the way to Coventry I now go,
Its been a good couple of hours since I had left, surely by now they must know.
No police on this train, Im now much more relaxed, as I observe life around from this chair,
There are all sorts of people, going all sorts of places, and its not long until I get there.

 I get off the train and then walk out of the station, to try and find where Coventry play,
But there werent many people, around to ask for directions, and I had no clue of the way.
I walked back in the station, didnt know what to do, still hoping Id not yet been seen,
And then I saw, in bright orange letters, London Euston on the timetable screen.

London Euston? I thought, I wonder if that, is the capital city or not,
And if it is, then that sounds exciting, Id like to go there a lot.
Or is it a village, in the middle of nowhere, that just happens to share the same name?
I dont want to be, stuck out in the sticks, like I was in Great Haywood again.

So I asked a man waiting inside the station, Excuse me mate could you help me?
Does that writing there, that says London Euston , mean London as in the city?
The man in his twenties then chuckled and said Yes mate thats the same place,
The train comes in five minutes, and arrives on this platform, in which I then replied to him ace.”

And when the train came, with excitement jumped on, the inside seemed well kept and plush,
And as the train left, I yet once again, got that same big intense rush.
The ticket inspector came up, I got out my cash and said A child single to London mate please,
As I gave him my cash, he then printed my ticket, and looked at me with slight unease.

Where are you going, when you get to London? the ticket inspector then suddenly said,
Then I had to think, of the quickest thing, which came to me inside my head.
Im meeting a pen-pal I then replied, Where does he live? the ticket man says,
I cant quite remember was what Id thought to say, but Im staying there for a few days.”

Is anyone meeting you at the other end? Have you got a number for them that you can call?
In which I reply his dads meeting me there and I dont have a number at all.
So where are your bags? he continues to ask, Surely youve packed up some clothes?
His dads lending me some, was the answer I thought, and I start to wonder if he now knows.

OK he said and then gave me a ticket, and then walked off once Id said thank you,
A big sigh of relief, I can once again breathe, as I sit and think to myself phew.
But its not over yet, could have he called the police? Will there be some at the other end?
Or did he believe, my quick made up story that I was off to see my friend?

  The train pulls into Euston, such a busy place, I cant believe that Ive now made it here,
I get that same rush, that Ive been getting all day, the mix of excitement and fear.
Dont let the police see me, I try and act straight, in the middle of the crowds I will stay,
But my chances of getting caught now feel slimmer, because Im feeling so far away.

And then I walk, into the main hall, still early and got loads of time,
I walk up a little, and then I see, a big London underground sign.
Id only once saw, that red and blue symbol, on my mums old computer game,
With some tunnels youd walk through, with no tracks at all, I didnt think that thered be a train.

And for a few moments, in my mind Id thought, they were just tunnels to walk underground,
Until Id seen, all the ticket machines, and down below a slight faint train sound..
I looked at the map, and I couldnt believe, the number of stations I saw,
I know that now I can get away, like Ive not quite got to before.

This time its different, Ive got money to travel, a ticket I can now afford,
I read names of some places, that Ive vaguely heard of, mainly from the monopoly board.
Piccadilly Circus, Waterloo, Kings Cross and Leicester Square,
Leicester Square looks quite easy to get to from here, so I think that Ill go there.

I buy me a ticket and get down to the train, everything feels so busy to me,
Its hustle and bustle, and people look different, I feel that theres so much to see.
I didnt quite think, that the stations were close; I was surprised how quick we got there,
The train felt so fast, as it had passed, through the tunnels towards Leicester Square.

The train soon arrives, and I leave the tube station, and I then take a short walk around,
The first time Id seen buskers, and human statues, and homeless folk there on the ground.
Portrait artists, and tourists with maps, all different nationalities,
Foreign-spoke languages all around me, and there seemed to be lots of Chinese.

Not too long after whilst still walking around, it had then started to lightly rain,
I wasnt sure, if it would then pour, so I went back to get on the train.
I look at the map and I then see, Piccadilly Circus is one stop away.
And Ive never once been, to see a circus, so there for a while I will stay.

Unknown to me then, it was only a few yards walk through Coventry street,
Id brought one more ticket, got back on the train, but walked more than Id sat in my seat.
Straight away saw the bright lights, that youd see on the postcards, it felt like I was at the fair,
Yet more buskers, and tourists would get, henna tattoos whilst sat in a chair.

I wandered around, and absorbed it all in, still with no plan or no purpose,
I then asked a man in a group out on the town, Excuse me mate where is the circus?
  This is it mate he then replied, Theres no circus? I had then asked,
Its not that kind of circus, its because of the road, he said as so many folk passed.

Not too long after, I made my way, back onto the underground,
And once again looked at the tube map, to see what places could be found.
Angel sounded an interesting place, I thought that thered be something there,
But I soon got bored, with not much to do, so I decided that Id go elsewhere.

I Walked back to the tube, and then looked at the map, and saw Arsenal next to a blue line,
I supported that team, and to go to Highbury, was a newfound childhood dream of mine.
After asking the staff inside the tube station, if that was where Arsenal play,
I then once again, got on a train, sat down this time and made my way.

And to my surprise, the station was busy, plenty of folk were there walking in,
And outside the tube was a bloke selling scarfs, and flags from inside of a bin.
A game had been on, there at Highbury, so I made my way up to the ground,
The gates were still open and people were leaving, so I went inside to look around.

Up a few stairs and through the long hall, to the top corner of the end stand,
          I imagine theyre playing, and Ian Wrights shooting, and then in front of my face waves a big hand hand.
Im sorry mate, but youve got to leave, were emptying the stadium now,
No worries I said because I was just glad, that Id caught a good look in somehow.

Out of the stadium, and back to the tube, I dont really know where to go,
So I rode the tube back to Piccadilly Circus, where buskers would put on a show.
The sound of loud bongos, and folk having fun, when I got there it had now turned to night,
And it aint gone dead quiet, like where I am from, and the vibe at the time felt alright.

I walked down the street, see a souvenir shop, so I buy myself a wallet from there,
And then soon I see that I have quickly, wandered back to Leicester Square.
I walk past the buskers, and the Pizzerias, and the tube station that I now know,
But times ticking on, and I still havent found, any kind of shelter to go.

Back to the tube map, now where do I go, somewhere safe this time of night?
And then I saw, Whitechapel station, and thought that it sounded alright.
Surely Im safe, near some big white chapel, it doesnt sound a busy place,
 No one will be there, around at night surely, which means that few see my face.

I buy yet one more ticket, still plenty of money, and I feel like a millionaire,
Through the barriers, and down the escalators, a Rasta busker plays Bob Marley there.
I change at Kings Cross, learn to read the tube map, get on the Hammersmith and city line,

Im sure it will be, quite a beautiful place, and this big white chapel will be fine.

Poetry written by Ben Westwood, Musician and poet. UK
Copyright Ben Westwood. 

Follow the true story of a young teenager running away from home and the state, in a premature search for independence. In poetry. 

Making choices that often only a young mind would make, Ben tells his story and memories of being in the social services system from eleven years old, as well as 1990s London street life, as a missing runaway sleeping rough.

From angels, predators, shocking times to heart-warming moments, Musician and now debut author Ben Westwood gives an insight into the mind of a rebellious-spirited youngster trying to find his own way in the world.

You can read the first fourteen poems written for this project at the following link.


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