Tuesday, 24 March 2009


There has been a lot of careless talk recently about me returning to study. Hubby, bless him, is desperate to make me more marketable, so it was undoubtedly the conversations that he’d heard regarding universities and student loans that had confused my easily mystified son. I had no idea what on earth he was talking about when he sleepily walked into the kitchen on Monday morning.
“Morning Ma”, he said planting a kiss on top of my head. I handed him a bacon bagel.
“Cheers”, he said folding himself onto one of the kitchen bar stools, before adding, after having taken a bite, “Www dnnn bbb e wwa”.
“How many times must I ask you not to speak with your mouth full? Now, will you repeat that again?”
Clearing his throat he tried again, “I said, well done by the way”.
“For what sweetie, making a sublime bagel?
“Well yeah obviously, nah I meant for going back to Uni”.
“Hmm”, I replied cagily, “It’s not written in stone yet. I was lucky to get on the course but I’m still not sure whether a full time academic course is for me”.
There was a pause as he wolfed the rest of his bagel so, whilst he masticated, I emptied the dishwasher.
“Still”, he added, “It sounds pretty cool”.
“What darling?” I replied, peering at the yucky residue left in my mugs, “Look”, I said, brandishing a mug at him, “How hard can it be to successfully load a dishwasher so that the machine can actually go about the job it is intended to do, such as wash dishes. Anyway, you were saying, what is cool exactly?”
“You being a barrister” and without further ado, he downed his juice, picked up his satchel, or whatever it’s called these days and kissed my head again, “See you later, Alice Band, QC”.
“Er, before you go to school and tell all and sundry that your mother is the next Cherie Blair what on earth are you talking about?”
“Like I said, you being a barrister. I’m dead impressed mum. I didn’t know that you were into law”.
I was thoroughly perplexed. “Sweetheart, I honestly don’t know what you are on about and my only dealings I’ve had with the law is being stopped by the police for speeding”.
He scratched his head, “Hmm, but I could have sworn that I heard dad tell Mags only yesterday that you were becoming a barrister”. The penny dropped. Finally. And I threw myself, first forward, then back, like the Scottish guy in Four Weddings and a Funeral does just before he drops dead.
“My God mum, are you ok”, asked my poor son, who is no stranger to the odd chick flick, throwing his bag to the floor and putting a supportive arm under me.
“A barrister?” I howled, “A barrister?” I weeped, “A barrister?” I cried with laughter, “Oh my poor deluded boy”. Holding onto my sides, tears pouring down my face, I laughed and laughed and laughed.
“What the hell is it mum?”, he asked again, clearly irritated now by his mother’s mirth.
“Oh my sweet boy”, I said holding his face in my hands, “Your mother isn’t that clever. If only! No, no, not a barrister. I’ve got a job in a cafe...”
He looked and me blankly, “And?”
“And I’ll be making coffees then won’t I? I’ll be a barista!” His disappointment was palpable; far from speaking on behalf of the defence or prosecution, his mother would actually just be speaking to customers and whether they wanted one shot or two and not, “Did you fire one shot or two?”
But I think that I’ve found my vocation. Well, once I’ve mastered how to make froth that is. I never knew producing a cappuccino was such a hornet’s nest. The milk has to be the right temperature before you start, then there is much debate on the fat content; a split second too long with your air nozzle in the milk jug and it’s scalded, ergo the milk is ruined and you have a jug of milk that smells like rice pudding and one has to ditch it whilst the owner looks on through patient, gritted teeth as you waste her profits, the customers looking on tutting and sighing at the incompetency of the ‘new girl’. As they flood through the door, I pray that they’ll ask for a pot of tea, or, better still a black coffee.
As one who loves to sit in cafes and people watch, it is the perfect job and the most comical of characters pass through one’s day. Take the walkers for example. Now there’s an earnest lot. Middle class, fairly elderly yet fit. They hike as a collective noun, rarely singularly and all have the ‘gear’. Gore-Tex jackets are de rigeur as are walking boots and factor 50 lip-screen. Around their necks hangs a whistle, flares, and a see through, waterproof pouch for that all important OS map; in a rucksack lies a compass, a First Aid kit, water purifying tablets (probably)and a Thermos and they carry in their fists poles that suggest the absence of both snow and skis. Slung across one shoulder are ropes and finally around their Rohan clad calves are Gore-Tex gaiters, because as we all know, in every grassy knoll there awaits a marauding adder, killing time before its bite kills any man, woman or child idiotic enough to allow their ankles be vulnerable and exposed.
As I carried tray after tray of cream teas over to their tables I was intrigued as to how far they had travelled, given how well prepared they were, for well, just about any natural disaster. I wasn’t prepared for the answer to be, “Cremyll” though or I might not have replied thus, “Oh really? My family and I do that walk regularly in a t-shirt and flip-flops”. Unsurprisingly, they never left me a tip.


Mary Alice said...

That was so funny....and yes, don't these hikers and bikers get outfitted to look as though they are preparing for some sort of week long ascent up some horrifying mountain peak....when indeed they are simply strolling down a well used pathway with their dog in tow…or riding down to the local ice cream shop?

Sally said...

A barrister would be a good job though. Very funny post! Have you decided what you are doing yet?

beck said...

Hi, love your latest post! Pop over to my blog when you have a sec, you have an award waiting! x