I ‘m talking to Slim, or I should say, he’s talking to me about Manchester United and their new Dutch coach, Louis Van Gaal. Slim is disappointed in the team’s progress since Van Gaal’s appointment at the beginning of the season. He is convinced that their problems are due to the coach’s stubborn insistence on playing three centre-backs.
“It’s just too much inertia, too much plod, no team can take the weight of three centre backs plus a slow holding midfielder like Michael Carrick. Also, wing backs?? Who knows how to play that position? Antonio Valencia, maybe, but who else, certainly not Danny Blind…he doesn’t have the speed.”
Slim has the bit between his teeth and from my experience, it can stay there a long time. I look past Slim along the bar and out through the window, there’s a construction crew outside working on a hole in the road. It’s a sunny day. I need to interrupt or this will turn into a rant that lasts the whole lunch.
“Talking about games” (awkward, I know) “have you any advice for people starting out in the poetry game”
“It’s not a f***king game”.
“Business, then, the poetry business”
“It’s certainly not a business, you hardly ever get paid and when you do, it would be barely enough to pay for this lunch”
“Why do you write, then? Slim looks thoughtful.
“I write poetry for the same reason that a dog licks his balls.”
“And that is?”
“Because I can and because I like to.”
“Wait a minute”, I said,” you can…”
“For Chrissake’, Slim roared, and banged his glass on the bar,
”I’m outta here!”
A guy in a business suit at the other end of the bar looks up from his newspaper. I stare at the full pitcher of pale ale and the mound of nachos covered in melted cheese, jalapeno peppers, diced olives, tomatoes, onions and topped off with something called shredded beef although it looks suspiciously like cat food sitting on the bar in front of me. I have an image in my head that I would really like to erase. The door to the bar opens and a lady wearing a hard hat and a high vis vest enters. Her hair is bleached blond and her face is red and weather beaten, she’s carrying a sign that says “Stop” on one side and “Slow” on the other. The “Slow” side faces towards me. I take this as a sign.
“Would you like some nachos,” I say “I’ve got guacamole”.
To be continued.