Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Society, Part II

In Sweden, we have a saying: "Mycket ska man höra innan öronen trillar av," which means "You'll hear a lot of things before your ears fall off." At the Cafe, I overhear conversations all the time.

The red-haired barista comes into the room, looking around. "Soy hot chocolate?"
A girl raises her hand. "Here."
He sets down the cup at her elbow. "It's quite runny."
"Well..." the girl pauses, reflects on the liquid state of all hot chocolate everywhere, "...of course it it."
The barista makes another attempt at explaining himself. "No, it's quite wet."
"Isn't it supposed to be?"
"What I mean is, it hasn't got much air in it."
I think this means something to baristas and other connoisseurs, but not to me and not to the girl who ordered soy hot chocolate. "Okay," she says, surprised by this unnecessary honesty. "Thank you."

A pair of filmmakers discuss their work in the corner, and Kate Tempest. A sausage dog sniffs carefully around the corners of the room, shy and polite. A student and his tutor, leafing through the notes of a dog-eared notebook. A man learning to speak Italian.

I meet a lot of people here at the cafe's big table, working to the melancholy strains of Jose Gonzalez. I sit at one end and a pair of well-heeled business men take their seat beside me; we cluster together conspiratorially to talk of "beneficial margins." I feel for a moment like their secretary.

"Can we sit here?" A New Zealand couple and their local guide are by my side.
"Oh, yes." I am hardly present, staring at the far wall deep in thought.
"You look very concentrated," says the man.
"Oh, yes, I'm trying to write a description for a character in my book."
He fixes me with a look. "Tall, elongated git."
I laugh. It reminds me of Red Dwarf. "I'll keep that in mind."
They ask me if I know any sights worth seeing. Not really. Don't know the area well enough. They drink their coffee at leisure before taking their leave.

"Can I sit here?"
I look up to a guy. He means the chair across from me.
He nods in thanks, then asks if I can watch his stuff while he fields a call. Of course I can. He leaves for a few minutes, then returns and almost has the time to relax before his phone rings again. He gestures apologetically. "Can you...?"
"Yeah. No problem."
He disappears around the corner and comes back in a while, finally settling himself in the chair. He notices my phone cover (it's Shakespeare) and because I can't help but gush about the Bard, I show him the picture in my locket (it's Shakespeare). He tells me he used to go to the Globe Theatre in London almost every weekend, and I am jealous. I tell him I've seen King Lear in Stratford-upon-Avon and how impressed I was with the staging, the costumes, the crumbling set. "It represents the decay of the kingdom," I tell him, and he nods again, philosophically. He doesn't complain when I fill him in on my love of the historical plays.

We talk about all sorts of things. He's from Cornwall. He ponders the role of social media in his career because he's a musician. Also apparently a youtuber by the name of Tom Law. I'd not heard of him until then, but that isn't surprising. I use youtube for kpop and kitty videos.

After an age of mutual distraction, neither of us have done any work. He has to run. We say goodbye, goodbye and good luck.

He's gone in a blink. The empty chair. Did I imagine it all?

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