From the ever-excellent Kenny Farquharson’s latest column in The Times:
There were just two drinkers at the bar when I walked in. Once they had established I was not from “the social” they were warm and engaging.
One stood nursing a whisky under a sign that said “Nicky’s Corner”. Would you happen to be Nicky, I asked him.
“No, no, no,” he said. “Nicky’s dead. Four years now. That’s him there.” He pointed to a sun-bleached photograph pinned to the wall. The photograph was in a plastic sleeve, along with some white stuff I couldn’t immediately identify.
What’s that white stuff, I asked.
Seagull feathers, he said.
The barmaid explained. The Creel being next to the docks, it was always surrounded by seagulls. Often, when the door opened, a single seagull feather would blow in and float around the bar a little while before finally coming to rest.
“The boss says that’s Nicky coming in to see how we’re doing. So we’ve always got to pick up the feather and put it in there,” she said, nodding toward the plastic sleeve.
A seagull feather floating in a shaft of sunlight and stoor*. Nicky, still a regular. A soft-hearted story in a hard man’s bar. Magic realism in the Blue Toon**.