This is a haibun that was published in The Haibun Journal. It’s a print journal and I wasn’t able to link to the haibun at the time as they don’t appear online. I thought its time had come, because the Six Nations Championship is underway so the subject of rugby seemed appropriate. It’s also a bit of light relief at a time of lockdown and news about irrelevant royalty.
It is set in Mrs Botham’s Tearoom in Whitby. They don’t generally have a harpist, but they did on this particular visit. I enjoyed eating crab sandwiches whilst listening to harp music. In my mind the haibun is dedicated to the two ex-players in the tearoom who both smiled and whispered to their long-suffering wives when the tune started.
I learned a lesson in persistence for this submission. I submitted three haibun and had one accepted, which is general practice as most magazines only take one haibun per writer per issue. Sometimes, of course, they don’t take any.
One of the rejects was sent out straight away with a quick spruce up, I agreed to a couple of edits and it appeared in an online journal shortly after. The other was sent out three more times before being accepted last week..
I think this is the only time I’ve managed to place an entire submission of three – normally I give up if one keeps coming back.
Another place, another time
We climb the stairs to the tearoom above the cake shop. The presence of a stairlift reveals much about the age of the clientele.
In the subdued lighting, we move back to a time of elegance. People pour their tea from plated teapots emblazoned with the teashop name. Hot water jugs are de rigeur. In the corner a harpist plays.
The tune she was playing was, my wife said, with a note of warning in her voice, called The Ash Grove, but I remembered it better as a traditional rugby song about the Mayor of Bayswater. He had, as I recall, a pretty daughter. Judging by several strained expressions around the place, I was not the only one. It was like a trumpet call to an old warhorse.
wives’ fixed smiles
the husbands remember
First published in The Haibun Journal October 2020