Free from the taint of sodium orange, this is moon country. Silver gilds the landscape, makes water mirrors, alchemises glass into precious metal. Lets us flow along shining lanes.
Even the best of places often have a different feel at night. Vital energy, caught between polarities of stone and sea, breaks away when the sun is not around to watch the drama of a view. Enchantment exits when the light gets switched off. Everything changes when the night watch clocks on.
The village falls away. A hamlet splutters out. With it goes the last artificial glow for a couple of miles. From now on, we twist and climb through the dark towards our destination.
The Square and Compass in Worth Matravers is one of
magical pubs. Coming from someone working on The Grimoire of London Taverns, that is not a glib statement. It is
not housing the genius loci, it has become it. England
From the languid creek of the pub sign to the comforting spill of light coming from the windows, the place is so archetypal it almost becomes unreal. As we walk towards it, I cannot shake a vague feeling of walking onto a film set. Have to banish the thought of several films. Raise hope that we are not going to opening the door to a Slaughtered Lamb welcome. We have drifted across a liminal border and into
’s own dream of itself. Its
vision of what a rural pub should be. England
Inside there is a chalk board listing the ales, home-pressed ciders and perries. Imagine the shipping forecast areas replaced by names of potential pints. Firebox. War Horse. Dark Star. Priory Mild. It reads like poetry. An irregular ode to an alternative fluid
My beer is the Chilli Plum Porter. Strong, rich and dark. Autumn poured into a glass. From the first sup, my mouth falls in love with it.
With traces of Masonic graffiti and fossil ghosts trapped in stone, The Square and Compass needs no faux trappings to generate a sense of history. Its museum of local finds is eccentric character, not a manufactured stab at heritage.
Pint in hand, I can psychometrise Roman rings corroding out of time. Touch giant ammonites. My fingers bridge a gap of 150 million years, flow across the shape of a creature extinct, but not vanished.
The temporal echoes of decades of laughter and talk bounce off of the wood, bounce off the Purbeck stone. You can feel the collected tales of the past swirling around. The Square and Compass has become part of the narrative of the landscape. Part of the English Dreaming.
One pint becomes two. I am drinking in more than the heady kick of the Chilli Plum Porter. My head is a crowded house of spirits. More than a century’s worth of landlords, assorted members of the Newman clan and drinkers pour their stories into me.
A third pint has to happen. One for those who have gone before. One for those here. One for those yet to come. Tonight you cannot help but feel that you can read the future in beer froth, divine a line of fate from your beer dregs.
Surreal Girl and I go outside. Above us is an explosion of stars. A map of past moments of light. The sky as both space and time. Unfolding, traveling into the now.
We look up. Our hands curl together. We walk back in the glow of the highest magic.