25 JULY 1992, Page 28

At the Carrickmore Festival

The thing I tripped over was a man on the pavement. I reached out my hand to his hand automatically.

It was dirty and hard with energy.

He refused to rise but held on. Well, that was his business; but his old chat .. .

the usual half insulting and prolix, pressing, non-sequiturs of alcoholics suggested no help or relationship was possible then. So my hand slipped his and centred on the modest hope the immediate future would include soap and water.

James Simmons