by Paul Tristram
I walked into The Market Tavern
upon the left hand side of the main drag
at exactly noon on a sunny, Autumnal day.
I spied no one employed behind the bar
but there was a female customer sitting
along the otherwise empty stretch of wood.
I walked on over and stood close by,
glancing sideways at her, late fifties,
un-brushed hair, grey bags under her eyes,
smudged traces of yesterday’s make-up.
Also a strange pungent aroma coming
from her which really was quite stunning
in its ferocity and eye-watering thickness.
A mix of stale urine, cheap perfume, grief
(I know this one well, it is unmistakeable!)
rolling tobacco, wet clothing (even though
she appeared dry?) and old library books.
She was drinking a pint of Export lager
and a shot of something whisky coloured.
I was about to ask her where the bartender
was when she turned to me and said
“Hi, I’m killing myself…how are you?”
“Nice to meet you and good luck with that!”
I answered before turning upon my heel
and exiting the building, crossing the street
and strolling into ‘The Virgin & The Gypsy’
Where I was greeted by 3 bleach blonde
21 year old smiling barmaids whom I soon
discovered were named Sian, Sam & Billy.
Who served me several pints of Adnams
Broadside Real Ale and a full roast dinner
complete with Yorkshire puddings, pigs
in blankets and all three available meats.
We’re all killing ourselves, every waking
moment of our lives, some days are better
and some are worse but right now I was not
in the mood to trade scars with anyone at all.