because of reading John Betjeman

Last night I walked through Brixton Station dead on midnight.
The digital clock turned zero.

I waited just to watch the 1 appear..
The zeros didn’t budge.

The 4 noughts stood unmoving in a row.

The station strangely empty,
I suddenly looked round
And had a foolish and a horrid fear that maybe
This was it,
My time was up

4 zeros now the pin number
To heaven or to hell.

4 numbers I would never now forget
and never need a memory for again;

My chances over and my actions past,
no time left now for action or regret.

So, Brixton station was my unexpected getting off
from all the movement and the pain,
the fulsome possibility
life had been.

Beyond familiar station steps,
I would no longer find the Brixton road
But judgement and eternity ahead.

Sarah de Nordwall October 2005


  1. In the unbaptised collective memory of medieval Europe, there was the idea that certain transitional times, such as midnight, dawn and dusk, were uncertain, even dangerous, because the normal progression of time was disrupted. Hence midnight was 'the very witching hour of night' (Hamlet), and the Tuatha De Duanann could be glimpsed in wild places at twilight (like the Eldar seeking the Grey Havens).

    Every now and then, this almost-forgotten memory can sneak up on us, and we may feel the uncanniness our ancestors felt – before Christianity came, teaching that God was knowable, logical and benign.

    Christ's light has done so much for us, psychologically.

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