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Welcome to a world class place

Ian McMillan
13 May 2009

CABE commissioned Ian McMillan to write Welcome to a world class place, a poem to mark the launch of the government’s strategy for improving quality of place. Ian is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC.

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan
Photo by A&M Photography

Welcome to a world class place

My dad cut the top off his breakfast egg with a flourish and a knife
And said ‘World class, Ian lad: world class!’
Maybe that’s all you need: flourish, optimism, and something sharp
To shape your dreams.

I want to live in a place I can call world class;
Give me a sunlit square not an underpass.

Think of them, the world class places: Barcelona, Barnsley, Ludlow,
Toronto; that walk from the station
down to Newcastle’s quay, plenty of flourish, built on flourish.
World class, I reckon: world class.

I want to wake up in a place that feels world class;
Espresso at the station, picnic on the grass.

Barnsley’s what I think with, so I’m defined by her streets
And her hills and the streets on the hills and the way
Mr Lowe next door whistles in his garden. With a flourish,
A rising trill at the phrase’s end.

A design on paper can become world class;
An alchemy of dreams, ideas and glass.

So here’s to world class places; cities of dreaming and myth,
Here’s to looking forward to streets and towns that dance.
Here’s to places we want to be in, places we want to love
Places built on light and history, and hints of sheer romance.

An optimistic street map and a smiling face:
That’s my definition of a world class place!

Ian McMillan recited the poem at the launch of World class places on 12 May 2009.
© Ian McMillan