Thursdays at the Rising Sun

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

On a corner of Cloth Fair

Weeks of working towards a stressful strat day

Had left everyone worn and weary

And with that feeling of post-battle comfortable lazy lethargy

A harsh downpour of rain had passed and the sun had come out

And the Smithfield world dazzled

And the air smelled strangely pure and clean

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Sometimes they could be a little dreary depending on company and mood

But not today

It was payday in late May and summer was coming

And we could feel it in the air

Our favourite bar lady Hanna warmed us with her smile

And her drinks

And the way her hair covered the left side of her face

Which I always found so alluring

And Tom from Data and Insights was here

Things were always better when Tom was around

All the good nights seemed to happen when he joined

So it goes

As it went from dusk to dark the music went from pop to Motown

As Tom told cycling stories to increasingly loud laughter

I leaned on the bar talking garbage to Rebecca

Making fun of her height and her accent

Which she seemed to like

We were all tired

But we drank on

Tired and relieved

Was better than wired and stressed

For once we felt like people who’d actually done something

Who’d achieved

The laughter got more hysterical and the music got under my skin

Tomorrow would be unproductive

The next few days would be, but who cared

Particularly then

Walking to the station with the usually serious, quiet Paul

As he rambled about some story about our CEO

I could relate and I laughed

Because I’d thought the same thing

He was amusing himself just as much as me

And I stared at the three towers of the Barbican

Looming over us

Like life reminding us that it was there

That tomorrow was there

Against the backdrop of brutal repetitions of this life

Some majestic triumphs of humanness

Shine out of the strange paradoxes

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Some were better than others

When it comes

She came and sat next to me at the bus stop

She must have been 90 or so

And started making conversation

I was never one for small talk with people

But I was interested and attentive

She joked about drinking too much sherry

About the blonde boy across the road

She spoke about football

And the weather

And how she never looks at bus times any more

“They’ll come when they come”

Another old lady came and sat and I was relieved of talk duty

We all got on the bus together and that was the last of the talk

I watched her three rows in front of me

Some condition made her head twitch just a bit

And yet what I felt for her was a sort of envy

She’d done her innings

No one relied on her or expected anything of her

Anymore

She was free to stare death in the face and smile with a sherry

It will come when it comes

Real people

Who knows why she had a French bulldog with her

At 8:30am going into central London

But it was midsummer

And everyone sweated

And you could almost pick out the people

Who hadn’t showered that morning

But I watched the dog

It was better than the usual sights at that hour

As the train filled

And filled

Soon I was in a sort of human sardine can

And we sweated and wished for air

Or something

I wished for Bank station, where there was usually an exodus of sorts

Just make it to Bank. Just make it to Bank.

But between Liverpool Street and Bank the train stopped

And we all stood there sweating in silence

And the dog started barking

What a beautiful natural sound

I smiled and glanced around

A handful of people were smiling

Those are the only real people on here I thought

The train eventually started up

We sweated on

I made it out ok, but a little wet

The breeze of summer ghosted through my shirt and kissed my ribs

I walked through Postman’s Park

Thinking about that dog

Egg on mince

Confronted by reality

You sit in your underwear at 10:30am

Eating left over mince with eggs on top

Remembering what you said

And the jokes you tried to make

All seeming a little less funny today

Slightly shaky, slightly confused

Were there not things you needed to do?

A tap drips

You see your reflection in the kitchen door glass

You stare back

You wonder

What you’re doing

With your life

Magic Portal

I ride the train down into the city every day

And as it gets further in it gets more and more packed

At its fullest I sometimes try to guess the number of people on the train

Possibly close to a thousand

And then my mind drifts and I think

I imagine

What if this train magically passed through some portal and entered another world

Like ours

Except the thousand people on the train

Would be the only people there

Free to set up a new civilisation

In a new world

What would happen?

Knowing all we know now

This train load of Adams and Eves

Would it descend into barbaric power struggles

Or would we create a harmonious society

And a  humane life for all

What is the true nature of people?

I wonder

As I stare at a balding man with sagging cheeks

Read the sport pages of the Metro

At Mile End a woman gets up and offers her seat

To a man with crutches

No magic portal this morning

Just the smelly West bound on the Central Line

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Let us feel the autumn chill

Touch our noses and ears

And see it it in our breath

As we talk about your country

And a little of mine

Meet me in Postman’s Park

And watch people fascinated

Discovering the plaques 

To the unknown heroes

While others sit on benches

Eating Pret sandwiches

Meet me in Postman’s Park

Let’s look up at the office windows 

That surround us

And talk of the futility of the 9 to 5

And of fishing boats and growing tomatoes 

And our own One Day dreams

Meet me in Postman’s Park

And bask in the beauty 

Of comfortable silences

As nearby traffic hums and vibrates

The odd siren in the distance

While a drill starts on and off

Meet me in Postman’s Park

It’s good to be here, now

Your blue eyes are visible

Even fifty yards away as you turn

To look at me one last time

As your blonde hair fades into the haze

Choice

The ambulance wails

In the distance 

Across a damp drizzle

These dreams

Aren’t always clear

I like to think

I’m always changing

But everything stays the same

In these washed up hours

And shipwrecked hopes

You see it in faces on the street

On the train

Hiding from the deep

In the shallow wastelands of modern life

Well go on then

Let’s crack on

The show goes on 

And all that

But

I’m tired

I’m lost

I’m out of touch

I’m a little too in love

With suffering

And deadbeat reflection

Another day awaits

Big city boy

Stuck in moving crowds

Where I’ve never belonged

But I keep finding myself in bigger ones

The urban sprawl

A necessity of modern life and modern civilisation

Hive mind ant life

Sweaty in stations even as the seasons change

I could be growing tomatoes now

Or chopping fish in the back of some seaside village restaurant

Or opening up my bar at 3pm 

Taking chairs off tables

Small talk with waiters

But I sit in trains and make up ideas

As the horizon glows

As I mind the gap

The bench

 Some afternoons after work I’d walk

down to the promenade walkway

and walk 2 miles up the shore and back again

Strangely I preferred the windy afternoons

they somehow blew the monotony of the working day away

and made me feel alive again

There was an old man who always sat on the same bench

as I walked past

Some days I’d catch him getting there

some days I’d catch him leaving

Most times I’d just see him sitting there

on his own

looking out over the sea

I felt I knew what he was thinking

Sometimes he’d be staring down

at his old wrinkled hands or looking at passers by

A few times I saw him petting dogs smiling

so I knew he was kind type

I liked him for that

And then one day he wasn’t there

Ever again

As I walked back to my apartment

a couple of blocks back

I would sometimes think

We’re all just alone

sitting on a bench

waiting to disappear

The violin

I was in someone’s house the other day

And they had this old vintage violin

Just sitting there

Like an ornament

I wanted to pick it up

But I dared not

It looked quite expensive

And all that

But it did make me think

That I’d never held a violin in my life

In terms of talent I could be the greatest violinist

In the world

Probably not

Definitely not

But I’d never know

Would I

And then I thought of all these parallel universes

Looking at us

Doorways and pathways untravelled

Talents unfound

So much of of life is just

Reaching out to something in front of you

And hoping it works

Following some perceived north star

While seas crash around us

We come into this life

And throw the dice

And hope for the best

Living in mud huts

While the ghosts of mansions

Cast shadows all over

Bad cappuccino

The cappuccino was chunky

God, I wasn’t coming to this coffeeshop again

Two sips and I left it for good

The trains had an issue and I was killing time

People kept looking down the street at something that had happened

After a while a woman was was pushed in by good samaritan

She’d taken a fall, quite a bad one

They’d found her a makeshift wheelchair somehow

He ordered her a tea and had to leave, she said her mother was coming

She was at the table next to me

Sitting alone

In tears

I offered her paracetamol for pain

She said no

She remained crying for some time

I tried to go on as normal but it was difficult

The well made-up gym women across from us carried on as per normal

The mother did eventually come

But there was something not quite right

She seemed oddly unconcerned

I felt sorry for the girl who fell

Something about her earlier tears

Seemed to be about a lot more than just her leg

I put on my coat

The awful taste of bad cappuccino in my mouth

It was time to face those damn trains