Almost missed it. I was quite late. It’s not too far to get there but it’s in that awkward zone where I might as well walk as public transport is indirect. It’s a lovely walk, just over the river.
Then, nobody was there. Walked into every room of the pub, which was just slightly more crowded than completely empty. No sign of a poetry reading at all. As I was leaving, I saw the courtyard, which I guess belongs to the pub but is not directly adjacent, and I happened to look in and there they all were.
All gathered around one very long table so that, although we were less than 20, it seemed quite a crowd. And, it’s always a nice, informal reading with maybe a bit of conversation between each presentation.
The sky grew dimmer, probably more than half the people read, one guy read a short story about his job, in a bar on a boat, on the Vltava, and it was just plain and real, a couple of joints went around, a few more people came, the sky grew dimmer still, the first stars came out and then I walked home, toward the lights across the river.
On the way there, right about sunset, I’d looked up just as I was passing a newish block of flats, all of which have balconies with a great view over the river. I saw a couple of women, in their 20s or 30s, sitting back with their feet up and a couple of glasses of red wine on the table. Wine glasses, not ordinary glasses. And I thought, they’ve got it great, they are at the peak. And everybody in this building has that balcony view, that sunset, that river – and then I realized that in that 6 story, 3 block long complex, they were the only ones outside.