Do you know a Robbo? That lovable rogue or thieving toerag (depending on your point of contact with him) who lives down the road but has a second home at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. I once knew a ‘Robbo’ who was so prisoned-up he set out his toothbrush, shaving brush, and face cloth like he was setting a place at a dinner table. Given the wonderful account of Robbo in The Devil in Cardiff, I know Patience Agbabi must have met a few such characters in her time.
Here, our Robert Owen (Robber Owing, one of many funny play-on-words throughout the poem, as you can tell from its title) meets what turns out to be the Devil Incarnate in a pub (where else!). Thinking, ‘He’ll teach him the tricks of the trade,‘ his trajectory down into that fiery hell, is sealed when taking the Devil with him out on the job. (more…)