The last of the pubs we visited on our poetry pub crawl around Chester was the Marlbororough Arms. My research material said: ‘Though it is relatively new to the list of pubs within Chester, that does not mean it is not haunted’, which is technically true. Its age is not the reason it’s not haunted.
Here is the story of the Marlbororough Arms ghost. In the late 1800s, the landlord, beset by loneliness, decided to go into the cellar and slit his throat. Apparently people who attempt suicide in this way usually make the mistake of lifting their chin, thus tightening their neck muscles and preventing the blade from severing their windpipe. As long as they are discovered, they usually survive. However, the landlord was so alone that his body was not found for days, and he bled to death.
Strange footsteps are heard in the upper floors and there are reports of his ghost walking the cellar. Apparently ‘phantom gurgles are sometimes heard from the cellar’. I don’t know how one identifies a phantom gurgle as opposed to legit gurgle – I’m not a ghostologist.
Supposedly, the dude who painted the pub sign saw the ghost before he finished the lettering. He was so shocked that he misspelt the pub name, writing the Marlbororough Arms instead of the Marlborough Arms.
Which I can totally understand. When I first heard the story, I was so shocked I said ‘that’s fucking bullshit’ instead of ‘what an atmospheric and plausible story’.
You have to hang your head – this is the easy part.
You’ve had practice.
Let the grey meat round your windpipe go slack.
Don’t back out now; the fact is
when draymen on Monday morning
find the merlot spillage leading back to your slit throat
and the boning knife oceaned in tacky blood
don’t think they won’t respect you
and your slow, decisive stroke, like a cellist’s,
your easy-grace unzipping; Pez-necked
in a lake of soapy ale and clotting gore.
The musk of hops; the bubbled flow
through plastic pipes; they drape a beermat
on your eyes, and shoo
the twitching, sipping flies.
I can do a lot better than this poem – buy my debut collection, Pub Stuntman, by way of proof.
You can also download my album of spoken word and sweet music. It’s called Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes.