@MattAbbottPoet

@MattAbbottPoet
Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

20 Dec 2015

Adjust the Brightness, Add a Filter, and It All Seems Twice as Nice


I

I never gave you my address,
but you knew I lived in Islington.
I'd mentioned a few times
that I loved The Lord Clyde,
so chances are I'm at this end
of Essex Road.

There were certain folk I saw
every day on that little stretch.

The old guy in the bowler hat,
who begged for change outside William Hill.

He'd use it to bet on his native West Indies
in the cricket.
Or whichever nag took his fancy.
Or, how many throw-ins there'd be
during the first half
of that weekend's big Premier League clash.
That was late morning.

Late afternoon,
the woman smoking outside the launderette;
in pastel coloured t-shirts,
three quarter length leggings,
and Hi-Tec trainers.
Her day entertained four types of coin,
three types of powder,
and both types of dirty laundry.

Late night, the guys in Essex Road Kebab.
Same order, never spoken:
large chips and mayo,
to match four cans for a fiver
from the mini mart next door.

Every day,
give or take,
whenever home
from the road.

Never expected, but always just
there.

We would all decorate and arrange
our own forms of loneliness,
with varying degrees of futility,
and various types of filter.

Safe to say,
when I saw you by the door in Sainsbury's Local,
it was far from expected,
and far from routine.

You'd travelled down,
on a baking summer morning,
purely on the off chance that you'd see me.
You knew I had the day off:
we'd been texting 'til 2.

My usual routine
was some kind of breakfast at half past ten,
and then one of those premixed cans of Gin & Tonic
before The Lord Clyde opened at 11.

But you'd travelled down, specifically,
on the off chance that you'd see me.

And as we cut across, towards Upper Street,
I'm not phased and I'm not disturbed.
Except only that,
The New Rose doesn't open until 11 o'clock either.

We turn left, and pass Slim Jim's,
and down towards Angel.
The York is open,
and in the sunshine, you oblige.
A double Bombay and a slimline
carries shifting connotations:
but acceptable in pairs
at this side of noon.

You wince, push away your glass,
and ask me for a single.
I tell you I'll do a swap,
but sink it straight down at the bar.

We catch the Northern line to King's Cross,
then the Piccadilly to Covent Garden.

We stroll down the Embankment
toward the face of Big Ben.

Pass Parliament Square,
where placards speak only
to tourists.

Through the back streets of Westminster;
just drifting, barely talking.
Well aware that

the tone of your visit,
and the ease of my welcome,
does not go a very long way
for respective stabilities.

We drink in a pub called The Speaker.
As the gin takes its toll,
you use the Gents' loo by mistake.

Eventually, you fall asleep,
by the fountain at the Palace,

and leave me,
not to question,
but to revel in
the opposite.


II

A fling, at best.
We met in a nightclub in Coventry,
so I guess we were always doomed.
Sharing a bath at the Holiday Inn,
and then fucking on the bathroom floor.

You'd find out which festivals I was playing,
and then sign up as a volunteer
so you could find me backstage.
On the Isle of Wight,
at Bestival,
we met, and fucked,
for the final time.
A dark night in September,
before I sank beneath the surface.

A week later,
I moved back from London
to home.
I slept, right through Christmas,
and haven't heard from you
since.





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