Inn Crowd Blogs #5: The Ship Inn, Levington

Posted by lukewrightpoet Category: Diary Entries, Poems

Wednesday 7th November, 2018

As I getting ready to leave yesterday I met a bloke called Alan Greening. Alan rather marvellously appeared from a five foot wooden door next to the hearth. It looks like a cupboard door. How long had they kept this white-neared gentleman in there for? Actually it turns out the door was for a staircase and he’d has disappeared up there while my back was turned. Alan is a historian, he teaches at Cambridge University, and has been charged by Adnams (who own the pub) to complete a historical survey of the building.

The bit I’m sitting in right now (same table as yesterday, adjacent to the bar, facing the fire) is the oldest part of the pub – the building here dates from the 14th century (700 years old!). Alan told me that it would have been built as a house, a prestigious place, being as it is right next to the church. He can’t be sure how long it had been a pub. Boozers That Used to be Houses!

I grew up in a very old house. My childhood home was built in 1485, and so I was able to guess that this building would not originally have had an upstairs. Alan said that in fact the chimney and the first floor were built in the 17th century. The original building would have been a double-storey hall, almost barn-like, with an open fire in the middle.

My dad recently traced his (our) family tree back to the 18th century, but it’s impossible to go back further. So much of our past has been lost and yet I am able to sit in a building like this and take a kind of communion with the past. History excites me. Some people like to look up to the stars to remind them how small their problems are. I like to think of the millions and millions of people that have walked this land before us, it calms me to know this has all been going on for years.

The following poem was written in a pub last week – it’s very much NOT about the past.

Status Update

What’s happening?…

I can’t settle
my brain’s uninsulated wires,
fizzing under floorboards
burning up my thoughts like dust motes.
Please don’t touch that bakelite switch
I think we need to get a man in.

All these screens,
these grim receipts of status
spiked on cluttered desktops in my mind.
Three hours on my laptop last night
watching e-ink notepads being unboxed.

Just one more minute’s screen time, please
to check how long my screen time’s been.

I’ve heard the brain is wider than the sky,
well, the skies round here are huge and grey
and I’ve got nothing to say.
Each stunning vista
rendered into wallpaper.

Just one more minute’s screen time, please
to check how long my screen time’s been.

A well known racist commentator
said a racist thing today
I heard about it third hand, scrolling
found the thing and dived below line,
let outrage beach the gutters of my mind.

Just one more minute’s screen time, please
to check how long my screen time’s been.

I used to think that cynics were the clever ones
oh he’s a healthy cynic him
a treadmill, low-fat cynic him
seeing fault in everything
lest they try to reel him in.
But cynics don’t just see the problems
they accept them.

I don’t know what I want
can’t picture myself twenty years from now.
I’m hasty thumbs,
erroneous corrections.
Fidgeting the flesh clean off my bones,
a phatic vocal tick
the ground floor of a tower block:
all that weight.