All along the watchtower

All along the watchtower

Broad Street in Reading town centre
         standing beside a tall tree
draped with fairy lights
         a busker in his fifties
stocky and with a short beard
         is playing his guitar to a backing track
with bass and drums
         a version of the Jimmy Hendrix take
on a Bob Dylan classic

It’s the last Sunday before Christmas
         the sky is overcast
but only a fine drizzle is falling
         shoppers are hurrying
from one store to another
         in a barely controlled frenzy
But the guitar playing is brilliant
         and when the man begins to sing
his voice is powerful and in key
         an excellent all-round performance

Sitting in a chair just behind the singer
         and holding an iPad or some other tablet
a stocky woman in her fifties
         is absorbed in a world of her own
in whatever she’s watching or playing
         but there’s a young boy aged about ten
in a wheelchair and he’s dancing
         and waving his arms with a huge smile
energetically reacting to the music
         he has glasses and there are gaps
in his teeth but he’s soaking up the song
         with pure delight living
totally in the moment
         a perfect audience

John Lyons