Five Pubs

In our village there still survive
Five pubs; one’s gone ‘gastro’, tantamount
To selling out, with ‘sharing dishes’ and ‘mezze plates’
So you must conclude, it doesn’t count
Another, popular in waves
Has changed its décor, a last-ditch attempt
To go up-market, gentrify
But now’s regarded with sheer contempt
The third, you need to be committed
It’s a good way hence, a half-mile yomp
All right going out, but after Three
It seems like Five, a wearisome, beer-fuelled klomp
The fourth is currently the most favoured
One side, low-beamed cozy locals’ den
The other, smartly daubed in ‘Linen White’
Reclaimed oak and wood-fired hen
But the fifth, well, it’s a drinkers’ pub
Worn old flooring, knotty pine
Scratchings, pints, pies and muzzie,
And a chillingly creaky old pub sign


A glimpse of a field-track; bounded by stone wall and mottled rust brown wire, holding back the drooping heads of wheat, arches gently over a whale-back hill. Footsteps and hoof marks mingle, intertwining snakes of knobbled bike-tyre tracks, cut nano-breakers in the mud. They take me back to you.

A pint in hand, hazy white through endless chinking, rubbing shoulders on a rinse-cycle, yet the chestnut brown beneath shines through still; the cumulus head floating above. It is raised slowly and takes me back to you.

A tray of pies, bask on a greaseproof towel. Like sunbathers under a midday sun, they brown and sizzle gently. Deep walled, their eggy wash is a sparkling sheen, factor 20. A perspiration of gravy bubbles up from below the lid. A man buys one, wrapping the bag around the body, he decapitates the tourist with carnal zeal. It takes me back to you.

Kayakers on the river, bob like cygnets or inconsequential ducklings, following their mother. The languid rotation of arm and blade, like a goose stretching its wings before flight, leaves saucer marks in the water, drifting away. They take me back to you.

The tired eyes, holding back sleep from the warmth of exertion; yet a smile creases the corners, the mouth too, recalling a moment; or a joke; the fuel of conversation. It takes me back to you.