My poem is about the death of my grandmother, Hilda Hill, during the 1991 Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Which is relevant because I saw hot-air balloons rising over the city the evening before she died, something I found beautiful and strangely comforting.
Somehow this memory became conflated in my head with another summer evening spent watching balloons from the vantage point of Horfield Common as they drifted over the northern suburbs of the city - something which doesn't happen too frequently, as the Festival is held at Ashton Court to the south of the city, and often the balloons float off over Somerset. Judging by the then age of my children, I think this particular occasion must have happened a year, maybe two, after my grandmother died, but poems are timeless things, and anyhow it was another quarter of a century later before I wrote it.
I decided that if I was going to produce of recording of me reading a poem so closely tied to its location, it would have to be recorded on the Common itself, rather than at home, sitting in front of the obligatory bookcase. This presented problems, as it's a popular place for joggers, dog-walkers, and children, with several busy roads marking its boundaries. Hence the horribly early Sunday morning start.