Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Playing pool at the Prince Bonaparte
Was not always such a genteel pastime.
I’m not saying you were going to be knifed
Or have your gut perforated with a pool stick,
Just that you got looked at.  If you’ve been looked at
You’ll know what I mean. The smoke was good
And the stink of beer, and altogether the sense
Of usedness the place had, like an old tool.

These places are gone or going now
Because renewal is the luxury we have time and money for
And doesn’t the year do it, anyway?
Isn’t it natural? Isn’t there a happy bruise or two
Of purple crocuses on the green?
Don’t we rejoice?

Between shots I sip my merlot and wonder
Why I miss the smoke and the spilled beer
And even the being looked at, and I’m afraid
That in the good food and the new d├ęcor
And even the svelte young women, I do not rejoice.

Wynn Wheldon

Originally published in The Spectator, November 2011, and reproduced here now because I have spotted crocuses and snowdrops on Judges Walk

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