Three deep at the bar – my first poem as Brent Poet Laureate…

When I decided to write my first poem for Brent inspired by my visit to Wembley for the England vs. Ireland friendly, I was pretty sure I’d write about the game, or at least the stadium. I wanted to tell people that if a nation can be judged on the way it treats its poorest, then surely the way to judge a stadium is the view from its cheapest seats, I wanted to shout loud from the rooftops that if this was the case then good old Wembley passed with flying colours! Or failing that, to biggup it’s world record as the venue with the most toilets (2168 to be precise). At least to mention the bloody arch! And I promise that one day I will, perhaps even making my next offering an ode to that glowing single-coloured rainbow of steel spleandour. But this time around I wrote about the pub on the high road. Because I’m sure we’ve all had a long wait for a drink at a busy bar, and for a pub in Wembley before England game, well times your worst experience by about ten…

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Three deep at the bar
The spoons pre-match is three deep at the bar
punters jostle for space, this is their six yard box
some man-mark, making eyes at one bar-staff only
others go zonal, locking down a spot as wide as two Wayne Rooneys
with constant slight shuffles from left to right. In short,
this ain’t your local on a quiet Tuesday night
where any mug can find himself in acres of space. This is Wembley.
Everybody’s touch tight here. Even the designated drivers
Tetchy and in need of a juice. Even the crafty old boys in flat caps
who seem content to grumble-hum about the plastic glasses
only to lunge in with last ditch refill requests.
I thought I had time for a pint Before kickoff.
But of all buses parked in front of the bar
Of all the rounded bellies with bright white replica kits on
I’m behind the biggest. And I’m parched here. Gasping.
Sod it. I feint left, drop the shoulder, ghost past him
jink between two lads berating their mate for sipping too slow
“you’re a drink behind already Daz. This is like Majorca all over again.”
One more shimmy, spot the gap, then go. so close I can taste it.
Until, finally, I’m in. That’s that.
I slap my wallet on the damp mat in front of the taps
And for those who don’t know, that’s next up nailed on
A move that makes swift service a stone-wall certainty
The barman nods – “what can I get ya?”
I inhale, quick look along the taps to check, when out of nowhere
I feel an elbow nudge from the left. “Actually mate, I think she was next.”
There’s no answer to that. Outgentlemanned. I shrug-Grunt my approval.
join him on the moral high ground. Hold on though… Nooo! It’s too late when it hits.
It’s the old one two, he’s gone in with the assist. I just watch
Mouth agog, as his strike-partner orders. Two halves.
And when the drinks come, my worst fears are confirmed
Coz one is his and one is hers. Even Lands a kiss on her cheek before they turn,
And walk right by me. Arms flung over shoulders all smiley.
Beardsley and Lineker. Italia 90. I swear it’s the hope that kills you.

Simon Mole, 2013.

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