London Street
A Wandering Words commission by poet and novelist Hannah Levene

Discover Norwich of the past, present and future through newly commissioned poems from five brilliant writers with ties to the city. Wandering Words is a literary walk, created to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Norwich becoming England’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

You can download a Wandering Words map here and embark on the walk yourself, or follow along online by listening to the poem and soundscape below. Explore Wandering Words in full here →

Image (c) Bob Pike


London Street

Location three: 53 London St, Norwich NR2 1HL

Loop your way back up the hill via Exchange St, then take a left at Jarrold and stop at the crest of London Street by the old National Westminster Bank. This was the first pedestrianised shopping precinct in the country and is now home to The Book Hive, one of Norwich’s finest independent bookshops. Why not step inside for a browse while you’re there?

‘London Street’ is written and performed by poet and novelist Hannah Levene.

 

London Street

Listen to the poem with the soundscape

 

Listen to the poem

 

Listen to the soundscape

 

Sound design and production by Access Creative College (William Plane).


Read ‘London Street’

Open’s closed. And Clive’s not coming in anymore for coffee. 15AD very old [DRILL SOUND DRILL SOUND DRILL SOUND] Sound of woodpecker in metal. Pigeons pile up. This old place. Pigeon/coo-coo in YEAR, NAME staged coup against NAME win/lose. Sigh. This old place. Flagstones soft like babyskin. Coo-coo the pigeons pile [DRILL SOUND DRILL SOUND] Going up London Street. Thick ground, bodies deep. Time buried in burial mounds but not from lack of care. Care is here drinking cappuccino with her nan. Yes nan. No nan. Canderel. Tap tap tap. Imagine 17AD when this and this and this blue plaque about THIS. At the centre of town Julian has cracked her egg, her healthy yolk pink and orange on the edge of the castle [KETT] is the sound the shell makes as it cracks [KETT, KETT] and deep yellow spreads through London Street towards tomorrow. Big Julian in the sky broad and fantastic scribbling vastly bringing night on (rowdy) thoroughfare to nowhere the pigeons pile up not that we didn’t care just that we stayed here so long. 12 13 14 AD AD AD. You’re meeting your mum where your mum and dad met which is where you were born. Flint catacomb smell. Scaffolding to replace the trees. Drill sound. Not so Betjeman-like and nothing rhymes here there is absolutely no rhythm at all just interruptions. Stop and chat about new tattoo studio HERE where MAN did THIS THEN. In the morning Julian’s waiting to welcome the binboys and bingirls. She is writing them into history because everything she writes is historic, she is of Norwich. Felt Julian stick chewing gum under her gigantic desk. First “foot street” in the UK, YEAR (1967) bodies deep. A conglomerance of churches ringing their bells at one another, trying to wave and mingle. Stop and chat between the churches (on London Street) where tissue-paper soft paving slabs form steeples on the floor, dim mountain ranges asking to be replaced, rutting, rucking, no rhythm at all [DDDRRIIIILLLLLLLSSSOOUUUNNDDDDDRRILLLSSSOUUNNDDD and DING DING DING] Hello!! says hallowed ground to another plot tended by a handsome groundsman named Flint. Thick Norfolk accent orders cappuccino. Where your mum and dad met which is where you were born. Where your mum and dad met which is where you were. Footfall. Grey and lively. Stop and chat with your nan. Friends you just met meeting you HERE where in YEAR this happened, this old place. Histrionic. Old yeah but also completely mad. A giant woman so big her body’s the sky. Here’s where night is an indecipherably small unit of time. A blink in sleep. Oh day again? (Fill hopper, shoo guls etc) 15 16 17 AD AD AD. Wonder when Open will? Wonder what they’re drilling??? Thoroughfare to the centre of this old place. Ruffle its head like a good dog. Doing all sorts of boring stuff.

 


Hannah Levene is a writer living in Norwich. Recent writings can be found in Blackbox Manifold, Spam, -agia and Hotel. Her novel, Greasepaint, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books.

 

 

 


Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Centre for Writing presentation, programmed by the National Centre for Writing.

A special thank you to our sound production partners Access Creative College: Harry Love, Jamie Lovett, William Plane, Mia Rodwell and Bill Skipp, supported by Matt Munford, Jonny Cole and Dylan Barber.

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