A wonderfully concise poem by the Pakistani-British poet Moniza Alvi. It says it all in just 8 lines. A post-war immigrant’s initial experience of England in all its weirdness and incomprehensibility.

Arrival 1946

The boat docked in at Liverpool.
From the train Tariq stared
at an unbroken line of washing
from the North West to Euston.

These are strange people, he thought —
an Empire, and all this washing,
the underwear, the Englishman’s garden.
It was Monday, and very sharp.


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