In the Heel of Italy

It was the last Friday before Christmas
and the lengthy lunch break was near ended,
when two travellers sought shelter and food.
But the Apulia boss shook his head,
“There is no room. We have nowhere for two.”
They were standing by an empty table.
“This one,” they said. “A group of three might come.”
+++The two sat down. Served with friendly banter
+++they watched diners depart and none enter.

The warm efficiency of the servers
could not elevate the dishes and drink
to the expectations from the prices.
The eighteen pound house wine was diddly-squat.
The six tiny bread rings, came with the wine,
but with only one down the mains were served.
+++The pasta pile in mud was a dismay
+++while the vegan pizza was just okay.

A sure sign of greed in a management
is when Service Charge is stuck on the bill.
Twelve and a half percent in this instance.
The Catholic church demanded only ten
and was offering eternal salvation
(T&C apply). All very feudal.
+++So, it was coins to the serfs who’d been nice
+++though Apulia’s bland fare has a grand price.

(Apulia, Long Lane, London EC1A)

Apulia’s tagliatelle antara plus a bread ring

Sting in Barracuda’s Tail

Yes, we accept the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda with a smile.
We sat. Waited. Waited some while.

Whitebait, cod, skate, all were tasty.
Watched, not served, by Barracuda,
the lax, basking … et cetera.

No, we don’t take the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda through her teeth.
We remonstrated with the thief.

A quarter off only the food,
half what the discount should have been.
Yet full S/C to strip you clean.

(Barracuda restaurant, Brighton Marina)

Ballade for the Birds

The San Antonio by Saint Paul’s Bay
is in Qawra, Malta, the George Cross isle.
It’s a comfortable, clean place to stay
where staff excel, adept – in a calm style –
always dealing with guests with a warm smile.
But evil mars a stay on this island,
one that Saint Francis would think the most vile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

The room’s the regular four-star cliché
with all one needs for a short domicile:
firm beds, rail and shelves to put clothes away,
constant hot shower, big basin. Meanwhile,
to sit on the toilet is knees to tile.
The balcony is a street masque grandstand,
and to fields, empty sky – which brings up bile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

The Kosy Bar is a big bland foyer
but the Buffet delights the gastrophile.
Watch a world stream by from Maroc Café;
take a shoreline stroll when you’re more agile.
Or a nearby cheap bus to get mobile:
Valletta, Mdina, Gozo at hand,
but expecting to hear birds is futile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.


Finding fault with this hotel is puerile
for staff, comfort, dining, locale are grand.
But the banned evil one has to revile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

Knees-to-tile toilet
Coach unloading starts a concert
Gueliz restaurant food, food, food

Poor Plumbing at Pricey Pub

To start water flowing out of the basin tap
hands need to be close to the sensor at the back.
To wash one’s hands they have to be in the water,
which stops when the hands move away from the sensor.
The sensor has a very short detection range
and an on-off reaction time that’s blinking fast.
While one hand is used to keep the water flowing,
the other can only be wetted in the stream.
And this country pub is too pseud to have a plug.
A solution can be found with toilet tissue,
draped over the tap’s arm in front of the sensor,
to be removed after both hands are soaped and rinsed.
+++At three-fifty for a tiny cup of coffee
+++they could afford a plumber for a remedy.

(Black Horse, Fulmer)

Love Locked Out of the Library

I am local, I say. I’ve published a novel
about the Kennet Navigation startup hell.
Would you like a gift copy for this library?
“No. We can’t put such books on our System, you see.”
But it does have an ISBN, I posit,
and six copies are in the Legal Deposit.
She must check with her boss (who hides in their nook),
reports back, “The System will not accept your book”.
Ah, The System. Yours it seems is a Mastodon
that trumpets a course of invalid inaction.
“We might buy your book if you put in a request.”
Buy one, reject one for free – that’s madness manifest.
++It’s just what I need to boost the writer in me –
++I can’t give away my magnum opus for free.

Cippenham library, Slough