Opening Time

It’s raining old women and sticks;
the lights are on, but the pub’s still closed.

They’re gasping for pints and packets of crisps,
squeezed tight together under the awning,
from which fat globules of water drip,
trickle off ends of unkempt hair
and find their way past grimy collars.

Between the telephone box and bike racks,
old dears regret leaving their umbrellas
in the race for a couple of gin-and-tonics;
they shake their heads and crane their necks
eager to see what the delay might be.

Inside the pub the unwound clock no longer ticks,
the hands are always on opening time – and the lock clicks.

Kim M. Russell, 28th January 2021

Rain Outside Of A Pub Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image  27767447.

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Opening lines… beginnings

This Thursday Peter is back with his first Meeting the Bar for the year. He made me quite envious with his mention of ‘languorous days, steamy nights, mosquitoes whining sweet nothings… the drone of cricket on the radio and crickets in the garden’ – a far cry from our dreary skies and bone-chill.

Today we are flexing our muscles with beginnings and pesky first lines, which Peter says are important, and he has given us a list of reasons as well as some excellent examples. 

Our challenge is to find the best first lines to hook ourselves new readers, with vivid images and unusual word use. We can stick with tradition (starting top left) or forge out in a new direction, maybe even a one line or one-word poem, found poetry, or a poem beginning with a line by a poet who’s provoked or enthralled or charmed or annoyed us.

Image found on 123RF

66 thoughts on “Opening Time

  1. This is incredibly atmospheric, Kim! 💝 I love the image; “Between the telephone box and bike racks, old dears regret leaving their umbrellas in the race for a couple of gin-and-tonics.” I can’t wait for rainy season again at my end of the world 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the scene you have set her, the raining, in the beginning, sets the sad mood to come of the old dears waiting for their first sip of alcohol and (maybe) the companion of people as lonely as they are. I sometimes saw this in passing with those places filled with (divorced) men.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a story being told around the world. Nobody likes being shut out, especially when you’ve been having a pint with friends in the afternoons for decades. I like the imagery you used which sets the mood so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You really set the tone of the pub. It has a solemnity to it. I could hear the opening and closing of the door, the lock that turns and clicks. It’s remarkable imagery, Kim! I love this piece from start to finish, there’s so much realism to it with connection and isolation, I can imagine it perfectly. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps pubs as we knew them will become a thing of the past. They’ve been through many changes. I hope it’s not the Wetherspoons and Slug and Lettuce type pubs that survive. I don’t drink but give me a traditional village pub any time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the pre-Covid days, we’d go to a pub in Winchester, across from Winchester College. It was a Sunday drive and lunch. We’d meet up with old friends living in Salisbury, and Winchester was midway for both of us. I miss seeing friends, having a chat over lunch.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Christmas before last, we visited Ellen for a few days. The highlight was a day in Winchester. We loved the Christmas markets, the cathedral and the atmosphere of the whole place. We wanted to make it an annual visit but Covid put paid to that. I hope we can do it next year. I love Winchester.


  5. Being an old woman meself, says I, your description leaves me a bit uncomfortable! But, since I don’t frequent bike racks and telephone boxes, I guess I’m safe from fat globules of water (YUK). A compelling read. I especially like “the unwound clock doesn’t tick .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I adore the piece, the dark humor and realistic feel to it. but I got a bit lost. Was it today or yesterday? Do the Pub crowd gather despite the pandemic in front of a closed establishment? Regardless, I enjoyed the atmosphere and language.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Glenn. The crowd was more like nostalgic ghosts from before the pandemic. I believe some pubs have been fined for serving customers during the lockdowns, especially the second one. Saying that, during the summer we were surprised to see a large group of teenagers sitting on cars and drinking outside the village pub.


  7. How agonizing the wait for that pub door to finally open – all that held in hushed tension here. I couldn’t help wonder if there’s an extra ironic echo here if the pubs are all closed due to the lockdown. would that it was just about a five minute’s wait! But anyway … the anticipation so finely done and that first line suggests a delirium of thirst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Brendan. Our village pub is closed indefinitely. It didn’t have a large clientele anyway and I can’t see how it can survive. Such a pity considering it was once the heart of the community.


  8. Oh dear. The end, “and the lock clicks”. Was it clicking shut or open? It would be a most cruel thing if the clock was stuck on open and the door stuck on closed. It was like the pub was turned inside out and the exposed clientele caught out in the rain was not so cozy but oh so real.


  9. Opening Time is a great title for a poem with a great beginning! (Not to mention the frozen ending which is so eerie with the unwound clock.) It’s a poem for the times as we all feel locked in and locked out. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was so clever and visually precise. I could picture those old ladies perfectly in my mind’s eye. I also loved your opening, turning ‘It’s raining men’ right on its head, and hooking my attention from the start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ingrid! I’ve had that opening line (together with some other colloquial expressions for rainy weather) and was waiting for a chance to use it. Everything else fell into place. I went out in the rain to post a letter the other day. The post box is outside the village pub and it looked so lonely and abandoned it made me nostalgic.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Original opening line, Kim! And the rather surreal imagery is kept up all the way through, old dears fighting their way to the bar, indeed, and you end on a very sinister note. You need to follow up with a poem starting with your last line…

    Liked by 1 person

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