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“It wasn’t a great pub, but it wasn’t bad either. It’s one of the few pubs in the area where you could have a quiet pint and a game of darts on a whim.”

The cove sits behind the main road to the right of the police station if you’re coming in from that angle. It has effluent-yellow paint but in a good way and acts as a shambolic beacon where the darkness is strongest off the footfall commuter grounds. The cove is an outpost that hides pint-drinkers and their dancing friends behind dust-dimmed curtains, ones that depress even the silhouettes. The cove is a pale light. Doormen take concealed beer bottles from queuers, who flash mobile-phone-beam rectangles around, in the bouncers’ faces no less. A sign probably says ‘welcome to the cove’, although I never have time to check. Inside: tables and chairs dotted. St Patrick’s Day – you’ll never forget. Musty air. The overwhelming dust-choking scent, although people are still smiling and some twisting a little. Second bar seen through a gap at the back of the first. Guinness deposits. Glasses that stick to surfaces but not for long. Signed 90s football shirts that are massive and in frames. Behind bodies spread out like an unkempt shrub, the source of the tinny music is found, with a shadowy selecta fading into the barely visible backrooms. Intermittently there’s a surge; groups grow into threes and fours, they crumple then fan out, in time to various memory-hazy atmosphered anti-choruses. I am with them, and I am not with them, and I used to be with them. On-and-off lamp as the toilet door opens and swings shut. “Here’s where the story ends.” Mouths make the shape of those words – each time the choruses sail into the room. Lips are close to faces, exactly the way we all want it, random bodies being knocked around the rectangle. Flailing things grazing. Everyone seems to be here tonight, even Becky – we are in an odd semi-circle that cuts between other groups, so I make them out in occasional strobes, and they are in miniature worlds, where they will stay for an hour or two. The world is this. What about when it’s turned into dust? What about then? This is the cove, which sits behind the beer garden and underneath a series of flats that seem to burrow it down into the earth. Where there are bodies behind the throws, totally unseen from the colds of the navy streets. You will not find the cove if you attempt to using mainstream mains. It won’t show up sharp on any maps; in fact it will resist it. You will have to be shown it, led to it. Word-of-mouth style. And then you will be able to pass the knowledge on to others. And they will then know of the cove and keep word of the cove circulating.

Of real architectural interest is this elaborate glazed office that stands between the two bars.

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© Copyright 2016 John Maher