A poem for Leeds

by Shaun Liew

It is true when the British tell you the parties in Leeds are the best,
but truth is the party is in the British – any disagreement on this should be put to rest.

Leeds is up north, beside Manchester.
Down south there is London, it’s overrated, doesn’t get that much better.
Back in Warwick University there is too little of everything,
Whereas Leeds has just enough, so while I’m here onto it I will cling.

It will be difficult to talk to people at first but it’s easier than Liverpool.
Here, breakfast is lunch, lunch is dinner, and dinner is supper – is that not cool?
And sometimes if you’re nice to a friend from the North and she finds you lovely,
She will call you a petal as she chugs down her seventh, her eight, her ninth cup of Yorkshire Tea, roughly.

Before you say ‘hello’, ‘morning’, or ‘how are you’,
Say ‘y’alright’ as half-question half-statement without expecting a longer conversation than ‘I’m alright, you?’.
And instead of ‘goodbye’, drop her a ‘ta’,
While if you are thankful for some beer, then cheers! Hurrah!

Usually when outsiders visit Leeds, they will think of York, Yorkshire pudding, and finally, Lake District.
Two of them you can visit, and one of them you can eat.
The Grand Theatre and Opera House, that’s lovely too,
Though not as lovely as Hyde Park Picture House, ain’t that true?
In the first, you will hear sweet songs and horrifying screams;
In the second you might fall asleep to La La Land, so sweet dreams.

Buildings in Leeds are strange, one is called Parkinsons,
There is another, called Roger Stevens.
Its staircases are fused with its lecture halls,
But don’t forget the EC Stoner corridors.
One of them allegedly the second longest in Europe,
But your classes shall not be there, you should hope.

Outside university, there is a pub called The Library,
And a church-turned club (called Halo) but it definitely isn’t holy.
It is here Asian societies profited and held their Halloween events,
Down the road pubs offer a pint for two quid and fifty pence.

You may hear that people get stabbed often in Hyde Park.
But really the only time I got stabbed in Leeds was in the heart.
Is this merely a metaphor,
Or is there something more?
Heartbreak is in the mind, it’s abstract,
And now even with dusty love letters, I remain intact.

Once I waited beside a crime scene outside a church.
Someone reported a foul smell; so I tried to search.
I took pictures and the policeman then told me,
My phone would be evidence if I continued and I did, gingerly.

Once, Alt-J performed in Leeds,
Give a listen to their beats.
And if you want more deets,
Know that Charles Xavier and Chris Pine used to walk these streets.

If that has not impressed you,
Leeds was where J.R.R Tolkien used to study English,
Terence Gomez once taught here too,
Presumably about how a few Malaysians got dirty rich.

So many places, so little time!
You are supposed to study, everything but is a crime!
But if that is so, getting rejected from internships are no better.
Like the sticky nightclubs and messy relationships, all of them you will endeavor.

It takes time to navigate your course while figuring what you want to be.
It will be hard to juggle studies and events as you please.
And if you manage to pull through with a first class honors,
Well done! But remember that grades are not wisdom, let’s be honest.

In December, when it is Christmas, it will not snow despite Daily Mail’s warnings of snowstorms.
But it might in January, February or March, stay put in your dorms.
In April, Easter begins,
May and June are for exams so you study, study, study so long you wonder,
How long has it been?

By July or August, it may be too hot.
Only radiators, no air conditioners, so damn bloody hot.
And by September come new juniors just like you a year ago.
Bring them around the city, they might enjoy it – no guarantees though.

You may introduce them to the Malaysian societies and some of them will be interested.
Others however will challenge themselves by living without Malaysians instead.
You may also explain to them that there is no one Malaysian society, but three: Kelab UMNO, Malay, non-Malay. Want to change it? Let it be.
If you manage to understand why before you launch into a righteous rant,
You could volunteer to bring them closer together just as I, and other society presidents, with their committees’ bent.

Sometimes religion trumps collaboration, like in Malaysian Night the annual play.
It may be difficult to follow requirements to separate men from females in the audience, or not have a Malay be a billionaire playboy, even if for one day.

But there is much more to a Malay than his culture,
And more to his culture than his religion.
It is on us to realise this – if not what is the point of any Vision?

If you stay in Hyde Park, live near the row
Where you have a continental supermarket, a burger place, a Chinese takeaway, Dixy’s Fried Chicken, two DIY shops, a barber, an alcohol store…Wait, wait, wait, that’s a lot to remember, bro.

Here in Leeds you may just create the best memories of your time,
Or even your worst.
But with the right friends, all your wounds – groggy hangovers, failed exams, mental breakdowns, and complicated girls
All of them will be nursed.

 

 

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