Monday, 20 April 2009


For one brief morning during the last, long seventeen years of pregnancy and mothering, roles were reversed and I was able to turn to Hubby and say, as I pulled on my clothes, put in some jaunty earrings and put up my hair with an even jauntier hair slide, “You’ll have to deal with it. It’s a Bank Holiday so the GP won’t see you. It’s a trip to Liskeard hospital I’m afraid” and without so much as listening to his “But, I don’t...”, I left him to cope.
It makes me sound like a callous mother but honestly, I have dealt with so many fevers, rashes and vomit over the years whilst Hubby was nowhere to be found that I felt fully vindicated in leaving the seven year old with a sore eye in the care of her father and went to work.
There is something extremely therapeutic in making a cappuccino. The noises surrounding the production of the smallest cup for instance drowns out any thought processes; combine that with the physical action of opening the used coffee drawer and slam banging the dregs into the cool, stainless steel compartment and ones stresses and strains are soon diminished. Then the aroma of the fresh coffee as it is dispensed from the grinder into the coffee measure before it is twisted into the barista machine is more restorative than any Tisserand essential oil. Finally, as the deep, glistening brown liquid filters into the cup, one can busy oneself in the production of the vital, thick froth necessary for a perfect cappuccino. The din as air is forced into the ice cold mild is truly cacophonous and one’s attention is completely absorbed in watching the bubbles rise up the stainless steel jug as the milk seems to protest violently as it is heated up, by roaring and gurgling and whirling. The silence when the air is shut off as the milk metamorphoses from innocuous white liquid into a thick, unctuous foam that will withstand chocolate shavings, is palpable. It is as though one has suppressed a living force.
There is as much psychotherapy in making pots of tea, what with the tinkling of the teapots themselves, the lids, the teaspoons, the cup and saucer, the turning on of the boiling water tap - again the indescribable noise, the smell of the leaves infusing and finally the carrying of the tray to the table. There is melody in at all. There is also music in measuring but I won’t describe the satisfaction I feel at the deli counter as my knife cuts slowly cuts through the sticky, blue cheese before it is weighed then enveloped in crinkly, crispy greaseproof paper. It is also probably best to keep to myself the rather ecstatic sense I get by immersing my ladle into the large bowl of glistening olives and stirring them so that the squelching viscosity of the oil wraps itself around each one so that every olive looks like a rare and as yet, undiscovered jewel. Who needs Freud when one has a cafe to work in?
I described my feelings to an amused Mags, who came to meet me as I clocked off at one. We strolled through the village arm in arm, more to keep warm than for any display of the exclusivity that is a best friend.
“It makes perfect sense to me”, she said, “I mean you are conducting your own orchestra working there, as opposed to being at home and listening to a never ending concert, one that you didn’t really want to buy tickets for”. Hmm.
“Anyway”, I added, changing the subject from the rather complicated psychoanalysis that Mags can wax lyrical about, “Not only do I love the machinations of making the drinks and things, but the people watching is vastly entertaining. Who needs The Ivy?”
“What do you mean?” she asked, perking up. Always one with an improving book by her bedside she is as much a sucker as anyone else for a bit of celebrity gossip, and, whilst she won’t bring herself to buy one personally, I am convinced that is why she visits the dentist as regularly as she does, not so much to check on her veneers but to read Heat magazine in the waiting room.
“Our cafe is celeb central” I replied enigmatically.
“Huh? Here?”, she peered down the narrow streets as though she were expecting to find ‘A’ listers ambling towards her in Crocs and a kagoule.
“Yep, complete with cute kids and ...”
“Never mind the kids”, she interrupted, “Who are the celebs?”
“Ah. That would be telling”, I said, maddeningly insouciant.
“Aw come on Alice, you are normally notoriously indiscreet”. Humph. I wouldn’t have told her anyway and especially now that she had cast aspersions on my prudency. Stuff her. Besides my phone went off in my bag. I answered it.
“Oh no. Poor darling. Tell her I’m on my way. Got to shoot Mags”, I said, kissing her continentally, “My domestic crises was only delayed, I now have to go and face aforementioned concert”.
At home I found my seven year old looking very sorry for herself but, before she had a chance to tell me what had happened, the four year old enlightened me.
“Mummy, they had to take her eyeball out and put yellow paint in her eye like my bright feltpens and then the paint came out of her nose like bright snot and then she screamed and screamed and screamed until she was sick”. Eat your heart our Violet-Elizabeth Bott.
The child in question had obviously been comforted by several Easter eggs if the chocolate on her t-shirt was anything to go by and her eye was completely obliterated by the biggest patch since Black-Beard terrorised the seas.
“I’ve a scratched cornea”, she said solemnly.“And I’m going back to work tomorrow” added Hubby, with what I could have sworn was, a distinct air of bonhomie.


Mopsa said...

Blimey Alice,I've obviously been away far too long. LOST FIVE STONE! GOT A JOB! WHAT ELSE HAVE I MISSED??? Will be back to find out.

Sally said...

Children are designed to ahve crises when you are not there. It's on the mother label. it should come with a health warning: "Note - Mothers will often feel guilty and be made to feel guilty. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about." Hope the cornea got better quickly...