Winters at the York Hotel


From the pen of our resident poet and literary critic Robert Cochrane, here's the first in a series of poems from his imprint The Bad Press. 


For William 17-06-1915 - 04- 02 -1985


to those with longer memories

was a spoilt boy gone wrong,

a raggedy andy,

prince of the hedgerows, alcoholic.

Homeless for decades since a squandered inheritance,

an apple gone sour in his dead parent's eyes,

a cadger supreme

stinking of meths in a stained overcoat,

his cap kneaded like dough

should the request require piety.

'The York Hotel' he'd quip if quizzed

of where he spent his night.

When my mother pointed out

that 1920's remnant of derelict grandeur

I couldn't comprehend

how he made the the fifteen miles from the coast

to beg a breakfast from her,

learnt it was his code for sleeping with

the sows in the miller's sty.

They kept him warm and probably alive

on many a frosty night.

Once in dire need of drink

he downed the acid from a recently drained battery.

The mechanic's distress heard

the doctor's resigned admission

'I'm sure he's drank worse'

and he had, and he did,

and would do so again.

He got God in the end, and a council house

before God got round to him.

Gave what testament he could recall

from a life once grace itself

though fallen from with none.

Became almost respectable

bar the occasional lapse,

like stealing and eating raw mince

from our outdoor pantry,

old habits of pilfering still strong.

Mum banned him after that

which both knew amounted to a scolding

and a few days exile.

- Robert Cochrane

Published via The Bad Press in his 2016 collection: Colly McGurk & My Interest In Girls

Copies £10 plus £2.50 p&p.

Available on request.

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