The Rabbit Room

Memorabilia adorns me now.  Quiet photographs of the legends I once accommodated.  A plaque commemorating their presence.  Hordes of tourists come to visit, take snaps, film it with their phones – gasping in delight at how tiny the snug is, how quaint.  They pretend to enjoy a pint of tepid English beer, the stodgy food.  Enthusiasts linger.  Writers stay even longer.  Sitting in the corner – the hallowed corner – trying to imbibe the atmosphere, to capture the ambience.  They ponder on literary immortality while trying to ensure a place for their own ink-stained soul in the bardic firmament.  Here is as good a spot as any cathedral or mosque.  This last homely house, this Prancing Pony, is a wardrobe, a wood between the worlds, a portal to magical lands – to Middle Earth, Perelandra, Narnia, Logres.  Once it was the rabbit hole to Wonderland and now it’s a knife-cut gateway to Jordan College, to quantum worlds beyond reckoning.  The new chap has been in, of course, raised a glass to his antecedents, two fingers to Jack.  Perhaps one day they’ll be visiting his old haunts?  The God-botherers and the pagans, the atheist scholars and fanatic movie devotees in costume.  All those who come to pay homage here.  To breathe in the same air – well, almost – it no longer swirls with pipesmoke and cigarettes, but the fire still crackles in the grate, the pumps provide the same local ales, the kitchen offers its homity pie, the barflies their homilies, and when its quiet, when the customers don’t drown out the silence with their chatter, the voices come back, the ghosts in the wall stir, those lost lunchtimes are replayed – a decade of Tuesdays – recorded like voices from long ago on wax cylinder and reel-to-reel, by the wooden Akashic record of my walls.  Listen…

A Radio Drama by Kevan Manwaring
(Used with permission)

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