From the archives: A curry with Matthew Sweeney


I am in the pub with Rupert. We are talking about planning a thing. It’s definitely going to happen. A thing involving being on the road, selling books and being in pubs like this one.

It’s definitely going to happen. Definitely.

In the meantime we have bitched about poets we don’t like and raved about those we love.

We have played the Ian McMillan game (based on his poem ‘Some Poetry Presses I Will Certainly Set Up in the next Three Weeks’: Dive Dive Dive is my favourite); we have argued.

We have sat in silence, staring at our drinks. Two blokes in a pub. In Exeter. It’s a Thursday.

I say to Rupert: ‘I’ve been thinking of starting another thing. About writing to poets and inviting them out for something, then interviewing them while we do it. Like taking Matthew Sweeney out for a curry. I bet he’d like that. Or a round of crazy golf with Simon Armitage. What d’you think?’

‘It’s a brilliant idea,’ Rupert says. ‘You should do it.’

‘You’re not going to talk me out of it?’

‘Why should I? It’s your idea. And it’s a good one. Go for it.’

‘So you don’t think it’s balls?’

‘No. I don’t think it’s balls. Sounds like fun. You should definitely do it.’  He drains his glass. ‘Another?’

He come back with new glasses, placing them carefully on the table so the beer doesn’t slosh. He’s even bought some crisps. It must be a celebration.

‘You could take Roger McGough to a Liverpool game!’

‘Probably an Everton fan.’

‘That’s not the point. Or Carol Ann to the opera.’

‘Brilliant! Except you can’t interview someone at the opera.’

‘You could just stay in the bar.’

‘Where could I take Don Paterson?’

‘Well, you could…’


‘Maybe if…’

Neither of us knows what to say. Rupert shrugs; he reaches for a crisp.

‘It’s a shit idea, isn’t it?’ I say.

‘No, it’s a great idea. At least going for a curry with Sweeney. And the golf with Armitage. Even if you stop after those two, it would be worth it.’

‘Where would I publish them?’

‘Do it yourself.’

‘But who would read it?’

‘Me.’ He looks at me. ‘You should definitely do it. It’s a great idea.’

‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Definitely. I will.’


First published 19 June, 2014


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