Login   Sign Up 


At the Laurel Inn, Robin Hood`s Bay

by James Graham 

Posted: 19 September 2006
Word Count: 112
Summary: Just back from a few days in Yorkshire. This piece is very raw - written in the last hour or so.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

The Laurel Inn, Robin Hood's Bay

It was closed.
At lunch-time on a Tuesday,
it was closed.

From 1917 till 1926
my grandmother lived
in the flat above this pub.

She had lost two husbands,
both called James.

The first of the Jameses
was killed in South Africa
by rotten army food.

James the Second
died on the lip of a trench
and left three children.

She never lived to know it
but James, her only son,
was bombed in Coventry.

Still, here I was,
the lucky one,
old James the Fourth,
through the female line,
late twentieth century man,

and I wanted to drink to her
but the pub was closed.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

joanie at 20:46 on 19 September 2006  Report this post
Oh, James! I think that in this case, raw is wonderfully, perfectly, right.

I almost cried as I read; I was certainly moved. This rings so true that I am here outside The Laurel Inn.

I am so sure that this is a real, recent story.

I love this!


tinyclanger at 09:20 on 20 September 2006  Report this post
My first reactions are like Joanie's. I can feel
Love the idea of the simple homage you wanted to pay her being frustrated. You weave the history so skillfully, in everyday language without embellishment. The ordinariness somehow makes the sadness more acute.
Like the link of warfare between the men, tells us the whole fabric of what her life must have been like.
And then you at the end...almost apologising for being the survivor..



The 'lip of a trench' is fantastic, so evocative.

NinaLara at 09:16 on 21 September 2006  Report this post
This is the sort of pigrimage I often make, being fascinated by family history! It always seems quite odd that a place can mean so much to me when time has moved on and it is part of the fabric of another families life now. By rights, the doors of the pub should have opened for you and the landlady should have drunk a toast with you and showed you old photographs - but this only happens on the television! Mostly, life just moves on ... and your poem captures this perfectly. (A pub closed on Tuesday lunchtime?) I very much liked the war link between the three Jameses and the sense of importance you give to your grandmother in your own life - although you never met her - in
through the female line,
late twentieth century man

I wondered about the word 'old', but see it is there to show that you have lived longer than the other men.

The first of the Jameses
was killed in South Africa
by rotten army food.

James the Second
died on the lip of a trench
and left three children.

She never lived to know it
but James, her only son,
was bombed in Coventry.

I just wondered if it would be worth playing with the word order in these three verses? I'm not sure why but something isn't quite flowing for me ... just niggles really .. but they don't quite fit the conversational tone of the poem somehow.

How about:

Rotten army food
killed the first James
in South Africa


She never lived to know it
but her only son James
was bombed in Coventry


Just thoughts

I really enjoyed this James. Thanks



How wonderful to have relatives from Robin Hoods Bay - great place to feel a part of!

tinyclanger at 19:53 on 21 September 2006  Report this post
And I didn't for a second doubt that it was true...that it was something you must 'know' perhaps..?

James Graham at 21:14 on 23 September 2006  Report this post
Joanie, tc, Nina, many thanks for your comments. As you know, it's very gratifying to write a poem, post it the same day, and get such positive responses.

It's all true - the visit to 'The Bay' (Tues 12 Sept) and the history. I'm not sure if my grandfather died 'on the lip of a trench', but he was killed at the Somme. It's very much a shared history, of course - so many families lost young men from two or even three generations.

As for the Laurel being closed, the Good Pub Guide tells me their opening time is 2pm on weekdays in winter. Two thoughts - in The Bay, winter obviously begins in September; and if I'd waited another half hour I could have drunk a toast to my grandmother's memory after all (with a pint of Speckled Hen drawn with a hand pump). Some other time...



Nina, I'll keep your revision ideas. Shuffling word order is something I often do, and I see what you mean by the 'niggle' in these lines.

Tina at 13:18 on 26 September 2006  Report this post
Hi James

I read this earlier but have left it a while to percolate in me old brain!

I can see the instant motivation and inspiration for writing a poem like this. Such a poignant tale and one so many of us can relate to as we all have a similar piece of history. Speaking personally I find returning to my place of birth and spending time there is like stepping back in time as I can see it as it was more than acknowledging the place as it is now. Sometimes that feels quite spooky!

I really enjoyed this as its story is touching. I liked the food and the lip of the trench images -perhaps yu could make this a theme in the next verses?? Being swallowed by a bomb perhaps!!

Robin Hoods bay is such an evokative place anyway! I am sure you could make more than one yarn out of this inside the pub - if it had been open!


Elsie at 18:58 on 26 September 2006  Report this post
James This is a nice story, that rang bells with me, too, as my mum was born in a pub near Newcastle. Isn't it odd that oftern people seem to marry a second partner with the same name? The last stana seems to echo the bad luck that's run through - but on the bright side - how awful if you'd eaten bad pub grub, and followed all the previous James's foorsteps. ) Not that I'm suggesting The Laurel Inn does bad food!

James Graham at 14:54 on 27 September 2006  Report this post
Thanks Tina and Elsie. It was quite nice to write a poem that wasn't the least bit brow-furrowing.

It is spooky to look at a childhood place that has changed over the years - you seem to see the 'ghost' of the old place underneath.


di2 at 21:50 on 14 November 2007  Report this post
I read you poem and really enjoyed it. It rings as clear as bell.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .