A Man of Letters

Drying my hair this morning, I got to thinking about Patrick. Don’t ask me why. I met Patrick about 12 years ago when I was opening a restaurant in Portobello Road in London. It was about two days before our opening and as I was arguing with two electricians, the coke bitch that was the fiancée of the restaurant owner, a Brazilian kitchen porter who swore he was legally in this country after seeking asylum and that the photo of the different man on his passport was ok with immigration, the front door opened to show a grey haired, grey bearded gentleman of questionable aroma. Sighing so deeply my feet actually left the floor, I moved towards the door ready to push him back out onto the street if need be.

“I am Patrick. I am a performing poet and I get all my coffee and whisky free in exchange for my poetry. Here is one for you – ‘Goddess is so high, she almost touches the sky. Goddess is so high. Goddess is so high … ”

I can’t remember the rest but it turns out Patrick was pretty high too – permanently. After a rocky start he became a stalwart of the restaurant and I ended up staging a monthly performing poetry night with a lot of poetry and other verbal artists guest starring. It was pretty cool. However I was always terrified the police would raid it as an opium den. Everybody was stoned, coked or otherwise. Patrick himself carried a letter in his coat pocket from the local police station. I can’t remember exactly what it said but they were so tired of arresting Patrick for blatantly smoking joints and wrangling him out of establishments after two whiskys, which coupled with Patrick’ s legal meds usually meant a huge scene of asylumatic proportions or a fight, that they wrote a letter basically saying that they knew this man and they knew he was openly smoking a joint and it was ok with them. Progressive policing would seem a necessary component for performing poetry in Portobello Road.

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