I was going to post about my evening at the Forest Cafe on Wednesday for our student blog Writing on Broken Glass, but although I made it to the venue I didn’t hear any of the performance.

I was originally meeting Claire Stewart of Forge of the Wordsmiths for a coffee in Leith but she called to suggest the Forest as she was meeting a friend to watch The Golden Hour, a performance poetry and music gig. As my nephew had breezed into town the evening before, I decided to turn coffee into wine and dragged him from televised football to enjoy an impromptu literary evening.

I hadn’t heard of the Forest Cafe before so made sure to check them out online, and I was delighted to see the magical letters BYOB jumping out at me. Arming myself with a nephew, a bottle of Tesco Finest Prosecco and two champagne flutes, I sallied forth on the 23 bus wondering how much a charity would charge for corkage.

I didn’t really get the full lay of the land of the Forest Cafe. The main room where the evening’s performances were being held was dark, hot and busy and everybody seemed to be eating nachos. I don’t like herd mentality so this collective nachoism made me slightly nervous. Stephen (nephew) and I grabbed the only table left in the front room. This meant we would probably not see the performance, but it did mean that I could speak to Claire without disturbing live art. I also thought I could probably avoid the nacho police through here as they all seemed to be in the main room busily eating nachos.

The Forest Cafe charge £1.20 corkage on a bottle of wine and have a really clever system using white tape with continuous red ‘SOLD’ markings that they wrap round the neck of your bottle to indicate to the masses at large that you have paid. I even saw a chap with tape round a can of beer.

Crystal flutes, ice-bag jacket ... yup! I'm good to go!

As it turns out we didn’t see any of the performances, although one particular musical interlude was annoying loud, permeating from the inner nacho chamber to where we sat supping Prosecco in the antechamber. I didn’t hear any explanation or introduction to the piece but it upset my biorhythms so much, I only unclenched my teeth this morning.

I also met one of the performers who, seeing the empty chair nephew had temporarily abandoned to go out for a smoke, sat down with a huge plate of falafel and shamelessly eavesdropped past the point of comfort. At one point he interrupted Claire, who was talking about stalking journalists, to tell me that stalking also worked really well on men. Should I want one he informed me, I should stalk one. Men love it, he earnestly nodded. I was not about to take dating advice from a man who didn’t have the manners to ask if he could sit next to me when the chair was obviously being used by someone else, but he did have pretty eyes. Come to think of it, I am disastrous at dating so maybe I should try stalking. I couldn’t help but wonder, is there a Stalking 101 that I should take first? Where do I find men to stalk?

Having finished Tesco’s finest, we left Forest to have a drink in Hotel du Vin opposite. This is a fairly new hotel that I really wanted to visit. They have a nice courtyard entrance with outdoor seating, but sadly the whole place comes off as a Brewer’s Fayre with a bigger budget and Debenham’s charge card. The staff behind reception were adequate, the signage was poor and the layout a bit confusing. When we finally made it to the bar we were greeted by a sweaty barman completely flustered by our entrance and the phone ringing at the same time. We asked if we could take drinks outside which we couldn’t as it was now after 10pm. Who is the kill-joy that came up with that rule?

We left without having a drink and headed to Negociants, which used to be brilliant  but is now appalling. Four customers and two grumpy ass bar staff, one of which had only the barest understanding of a Cuba Libre, and the other who seemed  interested only in stacking chairs and tables and closing up for the night than making money. What the hell happened to Negociants?

We eventually made our way to Hotel Missoni, another new venue I wanted to see, and we had a couple of pretty good cocktails. I don’t see me spending much time in the bar but it is an excellent spot for either your first or last drink of the evening. Or both. Oh – and I liked the glitter floor in the washrooms.

So, yes. I was going to blog about performance poetry for WOBG but didn’t actually hear any of it.

As he is 6"4, going out with my nephew means I can finally wear these!
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