Pubs and poets go together like the yin and yang of the known universe, inseparable and insoluble. In every pub in the UK there is a poet sitting in the corner scribbling gnomic fragments with prosodic marks over them, mouthing odd syllable-shapes, waiting to be bought another drink: they are part of the fixtures and fittings inherited from one landlord to the next along with the jukebox, the darts-board and the large dark stain on the carpet. The Dream-Songs would not be the randomised jibber-jabber conflating lyric profundity with maudlin prattle they are if Berryman had not composed many of them in bars and Dublin pubs: they boldly enact the woozy decline into incoherence, the loss of all sense of epistemological proportion and the sheer joy of talking bollocks that accompanies the pub-philosopher's nightly (or daily) downward spiral, immersed in this zone of permissible transgression like Hamlet's king of infinite space, deferring the bad dreams of next morning.
I say this by way of preamble to a new blog myself and some friends have embarked on, with a focus on writing about interesting or characterful pubs we come across both in London and outside it, posting reviews that will hopefully also be interesting and characterful. It's intended as a celebration of the pub in all its diversity in a time of widespread decline (31 pubs closing a week) when for God's sake we need it more than ever. What other manifestations of communal interaction do we have to offer in the UK that we haven't stolen from other cultures? Morris dancing? The greasy spoon café?
How else are you going to escape from the diurnal grind of quiet desperation that 'austerity Britain' has pushed you into? Sit at home reading poetry?
The blog's called The Optic - see what I've done there? - so please take a look at the opening chapter: