So…ok, I am on holiday but I can still go into a pub on my hols, right? It doesn’t have to be pub research, right? It doesn’t have to involve Spoken Word performances, right? Not on a Monday evening in Swanage at any rate. And not in The Globe surely…
It’s my first full day in Swanage and there is a lot of walking to be done. Two walks for the dogs, two for me and by 7.30 pm my phone kindly tells me that I have broken my all-time step count tally, (25,000 before you go thinking it’s a disappointingly low number) so I’m thinking that I must surely deserve a pint. I’ve already been walking out of town towards where I’m staying, so decide to keep on going and take a look at The Globe, which sits on the outskirts of Swanage.
As soon as I walk in I can immediately tell it’s a local’s pub. Everyone is sitting at the bar, and they obviously all know each other very well. And they don’t know me. The conversation even stops when I open the door. Such things should never deter a pub-writer or you’d soon run out of things to write about, so I carry on towards to bar. Plus I’ve already spotted a healthy selection of ales at the bar, so instinct kicks in and before my conscious brain has a chance to back me out, my subconscious has already ordered a ‘Ringwood’s Razorback’ and has additionally noted that ‘Timothy Taylors Landlord’ could be lined up for later too.
I sit near the bar but not at it. I don’t want to take someone’s seat! I ponder that pubs in holiday towns like this must get a lot of tourists invading their territory, so it’s fair enough for these locals to be a little circumspect in regard to yet another stranger coming through their doors. The pint is good but no conversation looks imminent so I get my pint down to my last few sips and prepare to leave. As I do so I then notice that one more person has come into the pub, and also has not sat down at the bar. In fact, he has sat down right at the far end. And has put up a small handwritten sign. It says ‘Poetry Evening’. I raise an eyebrow. I pick up my beer and decide to leave the last few sips in my pint glass, just for now.
Martin is an instantly amiable chap and invites me to join the evening, which it turns out is run here regularly. I introduce myself as a novelist rather than a poet but he says that would be fine if I wanted to read a bit of one of my books. We chat for a while about running spoken word groups, which I also do myself from time to time, and I (of course) grab another beer. Gradually the rest of the group, or those who are coming tonight anyway, arrive and we all make ourselves comfortable.
We then proceed to take turns at reading a little something. Some read selections of their favourite poetry, but a few of us have our own compositions to try out. Steve, the teenager amongst us, writes impressively with open honesty. Doug beautifully expresses his connections to nature, and also shows us a wry sense of humour. Martin entertains us with his hilarious poetical bombs, launched at the government, aristocracy and celebrity culture. Myself, I manage to read a bit of my first book, a short section that talks of the importance of making your memories while you can, which prompts me to take the picture above, and write this article, as it goes. Then, a bit later, once I do have that pint of ‘Landlord’, I even gain the (dutch) courage to read out one of my rare poems and a couple of old song lyrics. All of which I find all rather cathartic, now I think about it. Then by 10 o’clock, and all too soon, our time is up and we leave with handshakes and smiles. And some decent memories too. As a session in any pub should be.
So… it turned out to be an evening that was as lovely as it was unplanned. Nice to meet you all. Just goes to show what can happen in a pub if you care to look. And if you care to stay for those few extra sips!
If you want to join some poets and poetry fans in the Swanage area you can find them at The Globe, 3, Bell Street, Swanage from 8pm on Monday evenings.