By Edward Usher
The Tiger on Camberwell Green is fast becoming a favourite of mine. You know, the hipstery one next to the corner shop. No not that one, the other one. Anyway. My friend Emma has contrived to come back to the country without a phone, so we arranged to meet the old-fashioned way: Facebook messenger. I’ll be there at six, I assured her. My word is my bond. Six-thirty it is. Tell you what, better make it six forty-five, Scott’s just equalised and this baby’s going to extra time. So when I arrived at the pub on the dot of six thirty-four, imagine my alarm at finding Emma was nowhere to be seen. Sure, there were plenty of people there who looked a bit like Emma. Similar hair colour, roughly the same size septum piercing, identical vibe. But none of them actually were her. So I was forced to wait, like poor old Prince Charles from the olden days. But it did give me an opportunity to watch some people.
I stared about, waiting for creative afflatus. People occasionally looked at me. Most of them were on dates. They were between eighteen and eighty years old, black, white, brown and yellow, drunk, sober, rich, poor, happy and sad. They were drinking white wine, red wine, pink wine, black pints and blue mixers. They were laughing, talking, arguing, snogging, on the pull and off the wagon. But mostly, they were white and middle class. It’s the Tiger after all.
After a while, I noticed the bartender was crying. She didn’t seem to mind, she was just pulling pints and weeping. Then I saw Kate Tempest having a ciggie. It was most exciting. She looked just like Kate Tempest does on Youtube only in higher resolution and less rapt. As far as I could tell having gone outside to get a closer look, she wasn’t speaking in rhyme. I was vaguely disappointed. By then Emma had arrived, and didn’t know why were outside staring at a woman with a rollie from Lewisham. It’s Kate Tempest! I hissed. She does poetry on Youtube!
Emma was taken aback. So it is, she cooed. By now the bartender had stopped crying. Peace was restored. While everyone was outside looking at a poet, someone had walked in who smelled so strongly of cheese that Phil announced he smelt more strongly of cheese than cheese. I pondered this awhile as the others chatted around me. Can something smell more strongly of cheese than cheese? Perhaps this feeling of bemusement would have turned into afflatus if left alone to, ahem, mature. It might have been the start of something great. I’ll have to give it another shot sometime. Maybe turn up early for drinks a bit more often. Hang out with some cheesier poets. See what happens.