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  • Writer's pictureTony Frobisher

The Shelter

The Shelter That historic shelter by windswept beach. Beer can decorated, graffiti bleached. Home for the drunk and the desolate youth, Empty, forgotten and evident proof That fortunes ever fade in coastal towns. And the jobs have gone and those left behind Are down, and out on endless bitter days, Hands in Rizla pockets, searching for a smoky haze. To drink and forget why and where they are And seaside eyes look to horizons far. Shelter from nothing and a shell of a town, Shuffling past the shelter, eyes front and down The Shelter where poets once sat inspired To write of a life that would never tire But remains just a relic of the past Nothing happens there, if anyone asks. Except the lifeless drunks, and wayward yobs, A shelter from nothing, where all hope stops. And listen to the winds, a Wasteland call There is nothing here to shelter from, no Nothing at all. ______________________________________________________________________

The Nayland Rock Shelter, Margate. It should rate as one of the most important literary heritage sites in the UK, because TS Eliot wrote part of his epic poem, The Wasteland, here in 1921, while recovering from a nervous breakdown. Yet, despite a blue plaque recognizing this, and listed architectural status of the shelter, the shelter itself has become a symbol of neglect in a once vibrant coastal town. Of what hope could and should be, but what abandonment and desperation feels like. Broken window panes, the detritus of the drunks and homeless, the graffiti of the bored youth. The stench of urine.

Sad to see, and I hope the shelter and Margate itself see an upturn in fortunes. It deserves it. Coastal towns around the UK are decrepit shells of past glories.

Hanging on for dear life.

And it shouldn't be.

like this.

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