I was slightly befuddled by all these demands, but managed to stammer out that the “Rabbit Room” in the back was usually open, and that was all they needed to hear. 

I’ll tell you, a lot of long smoke and long wind got blown around that rabbit room every Tuesday afternoon after that. That group of clever fellows would come in and sit and talk for hours, and kept me plenty busy bringing them brew and sardine n’ crackers for Mr.Owen. It got be so that they folks that came to the Bird n Baby got used to the meetings. One day, in walks the group (it kept getting bigger as time went on) and I said “Well here’s the long expected party!” Mr. Tolkien said he would “have to steal that one from me” but I couldn’t tell what he meant by that. 

I liked to listen to them folks talk, as they always had interesting things to say. Supposedly they were all there to read each others writings and discuss and such, but some days they wouldn’t read a single word. They’d just talk, drink, laugh and argue philosophy. Day I hear Mr. Neville and Mr. Owen and the rest talkin about …..the next I hear Mr. Jack and Mr. Tolkien telling the rest how aliens could lead people to the Lord! That one actually sparked a dare, Mr. Tolkien betting that Mr. Jack could write a science fiction book. Well sure enough, in 1937 old Jack brought in a story which he said was “a thriller about a trip to Mars”. I thought that sounded balmy so ‘course I was interested, and stepped away from the bar a minute to listen in (I try not to eaves drop unless it’s for a good cause). I listened behind that wall for near three hours while Jack read his manuscript out loud. Soon other folks began getting curious and movin’ their chairs over next to me until the whole place was listenin’. We all scrambled back to our seats as soon as he was done. “I think I’ll call it ‘Out of the Silent Planet,’” he said when he was done. A year later I saw those words in a bookshop on one of the covers and nearly dropped dead. 

Years passed, and the “Inklings” as they called themselves, kept darkening my door. They kept coming regular even during the war, that is, until the beer ran out. Christmas though, Mr. Jack would come round with the rest of the group, trailing an enormous ham and we would have us a night like the good old days, singing, talking, and spinning yarns. We surely did love Jack for those hams and for those nights. Seems like every day you heard stories about how so-and-so many had been killed in France, and such-and-such price would be going up and more bad news. Those Christmas parties of Jack’s though—you almost forgot about the war then. 

More years passed, and one day I found a white hair in my beard. That same day Mr. Tolkien brought his boy Christopher to the meeting, now a full grown lad. Time does fly. Mr. Jack’s brother would come round in the later years too. He didn’t write much, but hung round the bar and made tea or talked to me. A friendly fellow, that Warnie, when he hasn’t been drinking.

Lately, young Christopher has been reading the “new hobbit” book his father is writing. I always felt like one of them hobbits meself. I ain’t a very clever fellow you see, and I ain't done much in life worth hollering about. I’m just a simple pub-keeper, who’s got to go on a few adventures thanks to those men who sit in the Rabbit Room on Tuesdays, bringing the adventures to me. 

Eulalia Hogers
Author