If you like, you might see this as (probably the only) candid photograph of the Potwell Inn. As you see, it’s not glamorous and – as a friend once pointed out – the stack of interconnected six way sockets under the desk are dangerous and possibly illegal; but it’s where I go to skulk, ponder, remember, puzzle, dream, study, read, write and occasionally paint. The shutters are half closed because that way I can avoid looking at the car park and enjoy the roofs of a Georgian terrace and a couple of trees sunning themselves under the blue sky and summer clouds. Skies, like railway lines, link places together in the imagination. Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to be homesick when you’re at home and I don’t know the answer, except that the Potwell Inn is the closest to the home I pine for, and like any self-build project it seems to be taking an eternity to create.
Last night a group of travellers pulled onto the green – there were something like ten trailers and an assortment of people from burly men who looked faintly terrifying, a big gang of children who wrestled, tumbled and played on the green with full hearted enthusiasm while their parents stood, arms folded, defying the twitching curtains. A policeman turned up on a bicycle and some negotiations took place – he seemed to be on first name terms with them. When I spoke to him later he said that he was surprised to see them because they usually parked up on Lansdown. I said that at least it would force the drug users and their dealers to find somewhere else. He ignored my remark resolutely and said that the Council would get the paperwork to evict them first thing in the morning. We stood and watched the children playing joyously and felt almost envious of their freedom. Then suddenly they all packed up and left, like a circus leaving town and the green felt empty once again.
The Potwell Inn is a bit like that. It can appear and disappear like the mirage of an oasis; a fugitive dream when you’re lost somewhere between the Favella and the Steppes; and I’m always searching for that sweet spot in between.