Pub people watching

Monday 16th March 2020


He chuckles

or clears his throat.

Maybe he is suppressing

a tickle or a giggle.

To cough now

makes one a pariah.

To be pink

from exertion

marks you suspect.

Though he probably want us to ask

what is funny

wants to interact

in this social-distancing.

We (me and the man who was here first)

bald, smiley, gets two pints at a time.

We have talked of beers and towpaths

of school and these times.

I have known him ten minutes

but we are connected by these things

and the compulsion to share them.

And in this sharing have become a unit.

I am a personal space guardian,

a claustrophobe

quite content with this two-metre rule,


The bald guy has a surprise of glasses on

and is checking his phone

for betting odds? messages from lovers? an ill parent?


I don’t know because we are not a true unit

just a fleeting one

but one with sparkle and openness.

(first published International Times, 25th April 2020)

Cover photo: Radovan (Unsplash)

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