Whilst Staring at a Distorted Reflection

The best pint I ever had was my first,

a bitter, at seventeen (not a bad kid).

It was thirty-nine pence and I was fourpence short,

so a girl’s dad who my brother knew

gave it me, at the White Hart, which in those days was a pub for drinking.

I remember it golden-brown in the jug, deep as a catchpit and foul as a sewer.


The best was a Guinness we had at the Vine,

my new wife and I, one dark night with the fire lit,

where we’d gone to read the deeds of our flat,

our first to own, in gothic script with great scrolling capitals.

It was thick as cream and at length shed cool light

on the legalities in black and white.


The best was my first pint of Doom Bar, one windy cove by St Agnes Bay,

camped in tight by the Driftwood Spars, theatrical rafters and stone walls

thick as the bottle glass as the evening closed

and the four of us gathered to turn up the day.

I remember that one, its taste, the flow,

the glow, the smell, that was the best.


The best was in spring with the six of us, perched asquint in the Devon sun,

smiling out at the camera lens at the Pilchard Inn,

each with a glass, as the dog sniffs up.

There was heat, thirst and a glass of the thin local cider,

a slippery chew, sweet to the tip and dry to the throat

and cold as the sea as it sucks on the feet.


I remember a lot of others, too, but those were the best,

the time, the place, the numbers set by multiples.

The others just weld to the table, they bleed and separate,

rather like the one by my hand as I

sit in this Glasgow bar and