A cough, deep, old and full of mucous,
Welcome to Lambeth sign, zero romanticism, no scrolling italics, no upwards slanting place name full of hope for a new life, a new place, a new start,
filthy blue fans, heavy smell of frying oil.
Two women, I’m one, the other’s older and sadder, well she looks sad but who knows, I look sad too, her fringe strings over her forehead, her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, booth no. 5, sitting across from a man who’s ignoring her.
Americana memorabilia, golden age, 50s and 60s, or alluding to that – a giant framed Grease poster (grease here too is the word), but none of us were there for that, no teenagers here with two straws in one shake,
...if you get anything from the 50s or 60s, if you get the right thing, the value could be colossal, better to put your money in vintage memorabilia than stocks or shares – how many guitars you got? – well I’ve got 141.. 141!
Five white bald heads popping out of the booths.
Elvis posters too, one taking up the whole wall, black and white except for his blue, presumably suede, shoes. In full Elvis mode, primed, young, powerful, beautiful, knees thrust, passion pulling him to his toes. Above the frame one of those American road signs: Elvis Presley Blvd. Around the cafe: James Dean Drive.
- Happy birthday son, happy birthday, you’re 50 again this year are you?
- 49, 49, maybe next year...
- (Another man) 49?
- Haven’t lived yet. You?
- 55. Funny enough my birthday’s the same as my mother’s and my brother’s is the same as his daughter
- Yeah but that happens sometimes doesn’t it?
The man whose birthday it is is the owner, or at least the guy behind the till serving. He wears an old fashioned 50s diner hat, white, boatish and dirty. White coat too, nice. His shoulders don’t move when he walks, he floats as he walks between the booths to serve the customers.
Someone sings, it sounds good though I can’t make out the words because the radio’s so loud.
A Beatles poster, some Marilyns, tin pictures, little frames. An Elvis doll hung mid hip thrust behind a bell on the wall.
The man opposite keeps looking over to where I look when I’m not looking.
She is good to me
she knows where I’d like to be
but it doesn’t matter
Bob Dylan’s best song ever... The people on the ground floor let their rubbish blow around and I don my rubber gloves and pick it up and in full view hoping to shame them,
There she goes
there she goes again
racing through my brain
A man, fat and old and white again wears a wonderful brown cowboy shirt. The points of its collar are silver capped and he has something like a sheriff’s badge on a chain pinned just above where his belly begins to paunch.
A mysterious sticky substance coating the wings of birds on the south coast...suspect it maybe due to a ship washing out its...
Four small wooden rectangles, each bearing one of the following words: What Would Elvis Do? Hung on a vertically descending chain.
A picture of George W Bush with Osama’s beard, hair and clothes: Wanted.
I feel so real
I feel so real
and I owe it all to you
love is such a wonderful thing
freedom from the chains that held us back for all those years
With the cowboy sits a woman with extremely black hair and a very neat straight fringe. Her voice is extraordinarily high and squeaky. I adore it. What is it about women with these voices? Like the girl in Twin Peaks and Audrey in the 80s Little Shop of Horrors.
- Is it really your birthday today? I ask when I order my second tea
- No, I don’t know why he said that, my birthday was last week
- Oh well happy birthday for then then
He stands and listens to the woman’s complaints and helps as much as he can. He then floats to table 6 – the numbers are written in pen on red paper sellotaped to the tiled wiles above the booths.
There is no political assumption
to our revolution
we are our spirits
in the material world
He is caretaker, mother, father, priest. The costume, the uniform, the outfit. We ask politely for food. We confess our needs from our booths.
Money money money money, mo-ney!
Arnold Schwarzenegger floats past on a bus with a a giant gun.
Marlon Brando is here too.
Many wild birds have been affected by the ‘waxy substance’ and heterosexual men eye each other up just as women do
A woman: middle aged, clean, well dressed, a brown furish coat, bright pink scarf, skinny legs, cute ankle boots, a bag from Risky...
So whatcha doin for the weekend? Email me, text me...
The woman talks to herself: no one, she’s wrong, a friend of mine, a casual friend....(her blue earrings)...stupid...I’m putting more away....and they told me Jake and Colin, you’ll be kicked out the kingdom...
You’re giving me a heart attack
The woman stands to drink her tea: people just use me. She puts her scarf on, her mug down, and shuffles out.
The cowboy looks gentle, touched as they used to say. All these people are touched. I guess I must be too.