There was something rewarding being Reader 51 for half an hour or so this morning for the Great Grimsby Literature Festival and National Poetry Day poetry relay. Leaving the laptop for the morning and taking a walk to the bridge, I found the east walkway closed, so schlepped under to the western path. The further onto the bridge, the more pronounced the thunders and rumbles of articulated lorries. They feel close, really close.
The noise, the movement, the vibration, the grey-brown river churning up sandbanks - it's a long way down. In place, just beyond the Barton side pier - some 500 metres from the shore - in time for the 11:44 reading. I said the words. A brief extract from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sail'd softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze -
On me alone it blew.
O dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? Is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree?
It's not surprising that rivers, oceans and waterways inspire poetry. This place is no exception. Philip Larkin's poem A Bridge For The Living put it far better than I can exactly what this great structure means to the region. The poem is wonderfully read by Tom Courtenay in Dave Lee's stunning film, originally made for the 2011 Humber Mouth Festival.