The last one in the cafe…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Raymond Chandler quotation is from his 1943 novel The High Window:
A tall handsome blonde, in a dress that looked like seawater sifted over with gold dust, came out of the Ladies’ Room touching up her lips and turned towards the arch humming.
The sound of rumba music came through the archway and she nodded her gold head in time to it, smiling. A short fat man with a red face and glittering eyes waited for her with a white wrap over his arm. He dug his thick fingers into her bare arm and leered up at her.
A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pyjamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.

So, it was Wednesday late in the afternoon, I was the last customer in the upstairs room of the cafe, the last squealing gaggle of schoolgirls had picked up their bags and gone leaving the place quiet except for the bland drone of the singer-songwriter strumming and whining through the wall speakers. A barista floated in and out collecting dirty crockery on stacked dark trays.
What exactly is ‘cafe society’? I don’t know, but on Wednesday I felt I was some small part of it. The busy barista returned holding a brush and pan.
I decided that I would pretend to be a poet for the last part of the afternoon, I got my little notebook and pen out of my bag:

They sound like sudden escaping steam, or hissing great snakes,
Possibly sharp chirping parrots, roaring loud lions, tigers, and startled hippopotami.
The brown chairs, they hiss, pushed across the floor,
Scrape, hiss, go the chairs one after another.
The foursquare tables are a different matter,
Their stocky leg-ends juddering across well-ridged old oak boards,
They are heavy rough quadrupeds, so loud, they rip the fabric of the quiet jungle.
The slim athletic staff-girl sweeps and sweeps around and shifts the stolid beasts,
Taps the legs of each one with her broom as she visits, as if sending messages.
Not really allowed to sweep round the customer’s feet, but,
She clacks my table hard, rattling a teaspoon, and without raising her head whispers,
‘Sorry…’ as if she didn’t really mean to do it.


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in books, cafe, creation, drama, Dulltown, existentialism, history, humour, observations, poetry, serendipity, surrealism, words, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The last one in the cafe…

  1. Oh I adore this! You should write more – it reminds me of Haiku in a way. Capturing a few moments in time. Also…terribly subtle hint by the sweeping staff member there to get the heck out!

  2. Jheron Bash says:

    Poetry! Dave! Whatever next? Haiku? Mime? Street theatre?

  3. david kilvington says:

    Must read this blog more often

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