Magazine article The Spectator

Three Memories of Shanghai (1989)

Magazine article The Spectator

Three Memories of Shanghai (1989)

Article excerpt

I

Smokey night

in the jazz bar of the Peace Hotel

(where Noel Coward wrote Private Lives)

and afterwards a typhoon

of sheeting, bouncing, luminescent rain.

'No taxi, no taxi,'

the doorman shook water from his hat:

No way home across that deluged town.

But out of the torrents came the tiniest car,

at the wheel a tiny girl,

seventeen, she said, but we guessed twelve

and she drove like a demon

fording sudden rivers

between trucks and trams

and out-of-action traffic lights

like a Jack Russell in a buffalo stampede,

like a rubber duck in a whitewater canyon.

'Nice driving,' we said, 'You take care'

as we squeezed out sweating but unscathed.

I often wonder if she's still there.

II

Jinshan,

the guide book said,

where peasant women paint

their cheerful scenes of rural life:

We pictured a hilltop village,

ancient stone, cooking smells,

chickens running free...

Two hours' slow taxi later,

In rusting industrial hinterland

This artists' commune's a concrete block

in the shadow of a petrochemical junkyard,

The artists mostly old, unsmiling

in bare rooms with iron bunks. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.