Sitting in a rather tidy little breakfast restaurant on the King’s Road I realized the man to my left was reading his poetry from a notebook to an older man, who was listening as well as he could over the general noise that always accompanies restaurant serving. The waitress, a swift footed Diana of the Diners, bustled past, plates of Full English Breakfast (with extra chips) stacked on her forearms.
The young man was seeking an opinion of his work from the older man.
My first thought was, “Why try to read poetry in this noise?”
So of course I listened in as well as I could.
The younger man was desperate to be ‘found’, to be published, to be heard, he explained. Yet he hadn’t sent out any of his work, and he needed the approval of the older man. The older man, with infinite tact, asked him why the approval of others mattered so much. The younger man could not answer, except for saying he needed something to show for his writing efforts.
The conversation went on for some time. Diana of the Diners collected their almost untouched mugs of tea and bustled away. At no point had the young man said there was something inside he wanted to express, and that this was what had driven him forwards. At no point had he talked about the content of his poetry.
For a moment I felt sad that this person was so desperate for recognition. He’d even missed out noticing Diana’s loveliness. Then I turned my attention back to the sausage, eggs, ham and chips before me and knew he was on his own learning path, and that it was perfect for him.