Friday, 17 July 2015


Alban was renowned for unsociable hours, 
though we were all a bit like that in those days,
at the end of the '80s, when East became West
but the North stayed precisely 55 degrees north.
He'd know the answer to anything you'd ask him
as he stroked the curls of his rolling-tobacco beard,
though how he made money—apart from the brew,
the gee-gees he backed in the bookies behind Paul's
and the squidgy Afghan black he dealt on the side
was anybody's guess. The one thing he couldn't 
recall was how he fell asleep with the deep fat fryer,
full of thumb-thick homemade chips, gaily bubbling
like frogspawn, while we, two storeys above him
with no means of escape, were wholly oblivious.
It was Mervyn, in the flat below us, who hammered 
on Alban's door until he roused, and between them
they doused the flames within the very nick of time.

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