20 APRIL 1991, Page 33

An Encounter

The two of us there, talking animatedly. He, trying to buy a way into our company? The pub bore perhaps? Grey haired, a flushed ravaged Complexion. Coat well cut; seen better days, Like the Edwardian cut-glass and decor And high pargeted ceiling of the bar.

`No, let me pay for it.' My companion's Expression said, 'Don't let that chap horn in': We were talking books, and people that we knew, All strangers to the stranger. Even so, Having myself been often on the fringe, Not quite in nor quite out, though among friends, I could not bring myself to give the brush-off.

Besides, he seemed to have the cash to waste: Why say no to an offer to stand treat?

So let our new friend fork out for our beer, And set myself to listen to the stranger.

Stranger? Unlike us, native to the place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. `. . . Seen better days?

Not many left; and money's nothing now.

Three months they give me, then I have to go.'

David Wright