Monday 18 December 2017

Fiona O'Connell: Punning pubs aren't good enough for the literati

Lay of the Land

Fiona O'Connell

IRECENTLY came across an eBook of poetry called I Love the Internet by Kevin Barrington, which reminded me of why poetry should be a popular pleasure, rather than the preserve of a finicky few.

It's a lesson I learnt when I first moved to this country town. I'd no fridge, no cooker, and no prospect of either until I sorted out some structural problems.

Worse, it was the tail-end of the Celtic Tiger, when many builders were busy multi-tasking their way to millions constructing 'McMansions' on boggy fields. There were few willing or able to take on my paltry job.

So I had bed, but no breakfast. A town also has its seasons, and while there are evergreen traders here, there were no restaurants open at the time. I didn't know many locals either, though my writerly ways had forged me some literary liaisons. For there are plenty of bohemian types in town. But I'd as soon watch paint dry as watch dry paint in a frame when I'm hungry, and none of the creative crowd could help me find my way to a hot dinner.

But then something wonderful happened: I discovered the last word in culinary kitsch in a pub called MT Pockets. To my surprise, my high-brow buddies already knew about it. But they pooh-poohed its punning name, and the only scoffing they would do was at it, not in it.

Their resistance had no rhyme or reason for me, so I boldly went where no bohemian had gone before, driven by what they considered a lack of taste in my search for something tasty. Which I duly found amid its Seventies' interior, comfy and spacious and replete with wine-coloured velvet couches. But I saw the appalled look on arty-farty faces when I waxed lyrical about its menu, so I learnt to keep my perverse pleasure to myself.

Until one day a terrible beauty was born. I was sprinkling pepper on my MT Pocket's plate, when in walked a Nobel Prize-winning poet.

He not only looked delighted to be there but to know his way about, confidently leading his party of four down the room.

And so this country town's clever clogs clique discovered that the punning pub was good enough for Ireland's most famous poet, and not just me.

Alas, MT Pockets proved to be poetry in motion, closing its doors soon after. But not before the egghead elite took the poetic licence of changing their tune about it, casually mentioning meals they had enjoyed there as if they'd always done so.

And while I eventually got my kitchen fitted, I still miss those days of 'bard and breakfast'.

Irish Independent

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