Early in the morning, I went to Lancaster station to pick up a prepaid train ticket for my daughter. It was busier than I expected. While I was standing in the queue, I became aware that the poet George Szirtes was behind me. He had once written an endorsement for my book Identity Papers. I struck up a conversation with him, and showed him the copy of Hinterland magazine that I happened to have in my coat pocket. It featured an interview with him by his daughter Helen. ‘I have a story coming out in the next issue,’ I told him, quite pleased with myself. As I was talking, George looked down at my feet. I looked down, too. I still had my slippers on. I asked him about his own work. He was travelling the country and writing a series of poems about the politics of Covid-19. As he talked, I found my eyes wandering to a woman in the queue next to ours. She had a red scarf over her mouth and nose, and I wondered if that counted as protective covering. George took hold of my chin and turned my face back in his direction. We ended up so deep in conversation, I actually followed him onto his train for London. Only when the train was moving, did I realise what had happened and got off at Preston, but not before having to borrow some money from George for the ticket back, since I’d left my wallet at home.




Ian Seed


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One Response to Distractions

    1. I remember it well. You were wearing a hat with a plume.

      Comment by George Szirtes on 19 September, 2020 at 8:40 am

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