Down in the basement of The Harrison Pub, London, now and then there is a small gathering of literati and Birbeck students. A literary Brouhaha,a Hubbub. I was delighted to be asked to read my short story - Beas Knees - and took my daughter along for the experience.
Under the pub the room was small, intimate, there was hessian stapled to the ceiling and silk flowers woven round the plumbing. The stage had one strong lamp with an orange filter, like an over-sucked travel sweet. Dust motes floated in front of heavy velvet drapes, the black stage was empty, expectant. Stepping on to the stage was easy from my front row seat. I tried to be cool under the blazing light, I couldn't see a thing, so I just focused on the words on the page and performed the story.
The sounds of the words made all the faults visible, I hoped only I had noticed. Then it was over, there was polite applause, relief, back to my seat to relax and enjoy hearing others read, even my daughter looked pleased, not embarrassed - a rarity. Afterwards we shared fat chips and garlic dip on the benches outside and a glass of sharp white wine that brought everything into soft focus. A good night.
The next day I was immersed in paperwork for a teaching post that smothered my creative impulses, I've got to hang on to those nights at The Harrison, and go again.