Themes

Growing up

This is a central theme in the poem as it begins with two small boys getting the bus on their own for the first time.

The literal bus trip becomes a metaphorical journey into another world - a world that is unfamiliar and frightening. Paterson explores the confusing experience of growing up and how it can destabilise even the most assured child.

The boy starts in command over his limited world as he counts his money and envisages the sweets and comics he will buy. This is quickly replaced with insecurity when presented with more ‘grown-up’ tasks like pushing the bell on the bus and paying the right money – things he obviously hasn’t done before.

This is a nervous child, as he admits I am obscurely worried as usual – small things have the potential to throw him off course.

The nightmare that follows explores the new feelings and experiences of adulthood - where people are no longer friendly, don’t understand you and where you are suddenly placed in situations to fend for yourself.

The final image is one of sheer isolation as the speaker has lost his sister and mother and must face the approaching black sea by himself.

Change

While Paterson explores the difficult transition between childhood and adulthood in 11:00: Baldovan, he takes the theme further by examining change in itself and its impact on our lives.

After the initial journey into adulthood we will come home to a world unrecognisable, where our loved ones are gone and we are left remembering the charred remains of an old familiar world.

Life is presented as a series of changes: there are sudden twists and turns that essentially mean that you never make it home again. This means the boys must assemble new constructs and securities in the light of changing experiences.

The process of time also comes into play here. Paterson implies that time can go very fast and you can suddenly realise you are alone in the world that once provided you with nurture and support.