Tuesday, 12 May 2009


It was his hair that I noticed first, a stormy mix of white and slate grey, not exactly tousled but then not exactly coiffured either, relaxed but stylish. His cologne drifted across the cafe, and his arms, a healthy golden brown as though he had just returned from some exotic location were well toned without being muscle bound. He caught me off guard when he looked up from his paper and found me staring at him. He peered over his designer glasses with true, forget-me-not blue, eyes.
“I’m sorry?”, I replied, blushing ever so slightly.
“Do you think I could have a latte?”.
“Gosh, I’m so sorry, gosh, yes of course. Latte coming up, right away”. I busied myself behind the barista and whilst the coffee dripped out of the machine I surreptitiously continued my gaze. He really was quite the thing. Not overly tall but no pygmy either. Broad chest, handsomely displayed by way of a faded, fitted denim shirt but it was his hair and those eyes, which, dammit were looking up at me again.
“On its way!”, I called, with what I hoped was a tone of nonchalance. I poured the milk into the jug, sunk the air nozzle to the bottom and turned on the valve. The cacophonous noise broke me out of my reverie long enough to be able to concentrate on making the perfect latte, but as I approached his table, he looked up again and smiled, disarming me immediately. Blushing to the roots of my highlighted hair, my hand started to shake and his latte slopped around in its cup, spoiling the perfect wobble of froth that had until then, sat atop the coffee like a cloud on Mont Blanc.
As I gently placed the saucer on his table, he gently placed his hand on mine, “You seem a little nervous. Is this your first day?”...

“Alice! Alice! Where are you love?” I slammed the computer shut as Hubby came into the sitting room looking for me.
“What are you up to?” he asked suspiciously.
“Nothing”, I replied, embarrassed by my fictional fantasy.
“Is that a fact” he said and, whilst I attempted mild protestation, it was better for him to read my story than imagine a secret, cyberspace liaison and so I let him lift the lid of my laptop.
“Quite the romantic writer”, he asked. I sighed.
“I’ve told you a hundred times before; I am not a Romantic writer. That’s your Byrons, Keats and Coleridges”.
“They were great Romantic writers”.
“Well what’s the difference then?” he asked, already I sensed, losing interest.
“Well during the 18th century there was a literary and artistic movement that stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience such as awe in the face of untamed nature for instance”.
“And nothing; what I was writing was romantic fiction, which I suppose, now you come to think of it can be compared with the Romantic poets because in romantic fiction one feels a similar sense of awe when one is in the presence of beauty such as...”
“Someone who is no pygmy either?”
“Exactly”, I replied blushing furiously at my sorrowful adjective. “Romantic fiction is very hard to do well though. Oh to be the next Jilly Cooper”, I sighed.
“What do you mean? You’re half way there already”. I sensed a joke.
“Alice... Cooper. ”
Thinking himself hilarious he sang ‘School’s Out’ all the way to the kitchen and I returned to my story. I was just wondering what might be a better analogy for a short person other than one of the indigenous tribes of the Congo rain forest when the 13 year old stormed in.
“Did you buy the black, cold water dye?”, she demanded. I put my head in my hands.
“I’m sorry darling, I completely forgot. When do you need it by?”
“Tomorrow or my textiles teacher will be mad. God mum, you’re hopeless. You haven’t even got a proper job and you still can’t get your act together. Ginny’s mum is an oncologist and not only has she got her dye but her mum went to a specialist fabric shop to buy her material for her skirt”. Boogaloo for Ginny’s mum.
At that juncture, my son appeared in the doorway.
“Right ma?” He gets more like Nick Cotton every day. “I need some cash. Just a few quid. To get to band practise.”
“Well I need my dye more than he needs money for his stupid band”. I continued to hold my head in my hands as they continued to fight that age old, sibling scrap of who is most worthy of, just about anything.
Just then, amid the fracas and the eff words and my ineffectual parenting, the key board came into life in the hall to Mozart’s Turkish March and two little girls twirled wildly into the sitting room in ballet slippers, scarves flowing , each utterly serious and each utterly dramatic. Isadora Duncan was foremost in my mind as I disentangled the long scarves from their throats. My son took one from me and draped it around his neck, provoking his sister to caustically comment, “affectation can be dangerous” as her parting shot.
I was immensely relieved to go to work and spent a blissful, peaceful afternoon there. Just before I clocked-off though I was a little disconcerted when the object of my fiction walked in and asked for his latte. He was still there, leaning against the barista chatting to me when Hubby came to collect me.
"Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling”, he quipped, taking my hand firmly. Hubby is not renowned for his literary erudition and I was so astonished that I duly followed him out.
“That was a profound statement.” I said, holding his hand tightly.“You can find anything on Wikipedia these days Alice”. My hand suddenly went limp.


DL said...


D. :)

Anonymous said...

i think I prefer he of the white and slate grey hair to hubby some times!

Sally said...

So are you going to expand the novel then?