This poem/lyric by Pete Sinfield, written in the early nineteen-seventies paints an evocative and critical image of the London night scene.
The Night People
Blue neon clock fingers sneaking past the stars
Extinguish the last fuse of day.
Through black rain-wet streets rush bleary-eyed cars
Stuffed with revellers drunk and blasé.
In Soho stained waiters bang dustbins around,
Commissionaires yawn into tweed,
As empty and echo hose yesterday down
The night people slide in between.
Sallow dudes with spotlight eyes
Pour laughter sauce on ice.
Velvet dolls with brandied smiles
Lean close with mouths of dice.
The tunnel band plays studded drums
And spits electric spears
As the dancers kick like marionettes
Through the smokescreen atmospheres.
Dance on pale harlequins of night
Lest you scratch your gilded fears.
The paint peeling tea stall by Charing Cross bridge
Attracts lonely moths to its lamps.
In corners of archways on a benches oak ridge
Lie newspapered wine-softened tramps;
Pushed on by policemen and queueing for soup
Evading the world's outstretched glove,
But one pain they share with the jewelled ghost troupe
Both searching for some kind of love.
Gargoyles chewing on dead cigars
Stack chips in crystal halls.
Sequinned starlets scent their breasts
Till the single finger calls.
Rhinestoned strippers strut and peel
For the cochineal stockade.
The gangster roars his crew applauds
At the punter's fun parade;
All worshiping the jaws of night
Where the piper is never paid.
Champagned freaks in denim shirts
Snort energy in spoons.
Laughing girls ask zodiac signs
But their eyes sing lonely tunes.
It's four o'clock the wine is flat
The coffee has long gone cold,
The rustlers pay their last respects
Then drive away blindfold . . . . . .
Dead the hollow dreams of night
Turn grey dissolve . . . .dissolve . . .
Leaves dervish dance on the coiled wind of dawn
Whisper . . . . The curtain lifts . . . . Day
News vans and lorries with oranges roar
From Fleet Street to Ealing Broadway.
The first bus with charladies stops in the Strand
Milk vans and post vans cruise by.
At Euston commuters, shop girls and striped suiters,
Are jostling and milling, cars hooting, brakes shrilling . . . . . .