One afternoon, many years ago, my father went into a public house in Tyldesley called ‘The Welcome Traveller’. The locals called the place ‘Skennin’ Bob’s’ as a previous landlord had had problems with his eyes. My father got himself a pint and was sat at the bar when a man came in whose skin was as black as coal. Not just black but shiny black, like that footballer Mane who plays for Liverpool. The man got himself a pint and he and my father got talking.
My father felt fascinated to know where this man came from but he didn’t like to ask straight out as it might seem rude. But all the while as they sat there at the bar my father was thinking, is this man from Sierra Leone or Senegal or where?
My father had seen many places in his lifetime, having been a regular soldier in India, and then having fought in North Africa with the Desert Rats. So foreign climes were not strange to him.
Eventually my father could restrain himself no longer. He really wanted to know where this man originated. So he decided to approach the subject gently and sideways, not asking the question direct or outright. Instead he said to the man with the shiny black face, ‘You’re not from around here, are you?’
The man was quite happy to respond. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’m not.’ Then added, ‘I’m from Salford.’
26 March 2022
+ I have told this story before in verse, but it is well worth repeating in prose today.