‘Isolated’ A monologue by Sean Southerland-Kirby

The Row in The Falcon today, 2022

INSIDE THE FALCON INN, LOWER BRIDGE STREET.  EX-ROW:

Isolation and loneliness are funny things.  They can mean different things in different situations.  For instance, you could be stranded on a desert island.  Or, maybe you’ve been locked away and never known a true friend.  Perhaps you simply have a different opinion to everyone else around you, and even though you’re surrounded by others, the crushing desolation seeps in through the cracks and wears you down? 

I know segregation well, torn away from the others like me, confined behind stone walls for the pleasure of someone else. 

I remember what it used to be like, how people of all ages would walk along my uneven floors and look at the wares placed ever so carefully by the store-owner to entice people into my shelter from the rain.  My stall-boards were no different from those of any of my brothers and sisters.  We joined hand-in-hand along the whole street.  A unified passage for all.  Those were the days.  So many store-owners claiming us as the fronts of their dim and stale shop-rooms.  Eurgh, rooms.  They never understood what it was like to be like us, open to the elements and full of fresh air.  Oh, how I miss those days. 

A drawing of the Falcon pub in Chester
Illustration: ©Tim Foxon timfoxon.com

For hundreds of years we were happy being ourselves.  Then along came Richard Grosvenor and his lot.  I could hear him talking in his room behind me.  The word ‘privacy’ kept being mentioned. I had a sinking feeling, and it wasn’t a loose floorboard.  Then he started.  None of us could believe it at first, but he was really doing it.  He was bricking me up.  Tearing me away from my family, from the public, from those that needed me.  He turned me into… a room.  He moved his family in.  

All the while they played and grew and laughed, I wept.  Crying for my freedom and calling out to my brother and sisters, but they could no longer hear me behind the bricks.  And yet worse tragedy was to come, because my fate, this interminable solitude, was thrust upon more of my family.  More Rows being bricked off and silenced forever.  Some were even completely destroyed and new building put in their place.  The thought makes my timbers shudder.

Centuries have passed now, and I’ve come to peace with my lot. You might know me now as a room at the Falcon pub. You may even have sat with me and toasted a birthday or christening.  It’s not the life I was made for, but at least the daytimes are bearable.  The night times are the hardest.  I can hear the wild whistle through my remaining brothers and sisters as they shelter the homeless.  Then the loneliness really stabs me. 

So, next time you come for a pint, raise a glass for me and raise another to the Rows.