The Slips

Story Slips

Extract -

There is something primal about a pub, I’ve decided now; pubs are dim, cavernous, raw – at least at 3am. There isn’t much in the world that’s weirder than a suburban pub at three o’clock in the morning. That said, unusual behaviour was pretty normal even during daylight hours. At the first pub I worked at, I’d once found a patron sitting in the betting room. Cap pulled low and unperturbed by the horses running and the race results flashing on the screens around him, he was instead scribbling on the back of a betting slip. I asked what he was doing. He explained that he’d broken up with his girlfriend and was writing her a poem that, when he recited what he had so far, I thought owed a greater debt to Eminem’s ‘Kim’ than to Keats’s ‘Bright Star’ (a line about his girlfriend opening up her legs for him has remained with me).

Maybe it was his spirit I was invoking when, during a particularly uneventful day shift, I went to the back of the bottleshop and took up a small TAB pencil, turned over a TAB betting slip and wrote down a line that I’d been working over in my head and didn’t want to lose. Another line followed, and another.

My old mate from the pub proved to be quite the innovator as I too found the slips handy. Like speech cards, they fit nicely in the pocket of my trousers, so I could tuck them away if somebody came in, and pull them out if I had an idea I wanted to get down – even if it came while I was in the cool room, and even if others were around.

Tristan Foster wrote a piece for us yesterday. To read more of the story, go to

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