Between Conversation And Confusion


"...but they weren’t what Wellington needed. So now we have a rubber boot and log of beef, I always think it’s all so unnecessarily British.” There was a protracted chuckle and the tinkle of cutlery. She wasn’t here yet, must be running late.

The clink next to me was enveloped by the general conversational hum. It was as if all the brass and mirrors reflected sound as well as light, the myriads of plates and tables and waiters on the walls all coming with their own soundscapes, their own identical conversational buzz, refraction. Sounds came in and out of focus, some louder and brighter and others small glistening droplets in the ocean of bobbing heads and slow-moving coffee carts. I was treading water, but complacently, without effort.
I had been looking without seeing for a while, but slowly both actions synchronised, and I found myself pulled back towards the café, coffee, and conversation.
The squat black teapot in front of me was one of those posh cast-iron ones, and it curled its spout delicately through the air in an almost exaggerated semi-circular way. It had to desperately prove its function. Rather unlike the blank paper sachet next to it, which didn’t even bother to inform the eater of its sweet granulated contents. This jarred me ever so slightly, psychologically.
Brooches twinkled in the light from the ornamented fixtures on the walls, the air hummed with voices softened by age. She’d chosen quite the establishment, then again she’d always had an antiquated taste.
I looked outside and tried to spot her through the bobbing heads and the light rain that had begun to fall, and the bags and hats and hands. Nothing.

“I didn’t think so at all when I saw it,” the comment floated over my right shoulder, like one of those irrelevant white downy feathers that make an appearance on windy days. Caught between two twigs somewhere, between the arcs of conversation and confusion.

The coffee shop ensconced and enclosed. It held its own quiet, gilt-edged civility. A gloved deference. Deference and also difference, because there was a certain distinction made between server and served, the sitting and the moving. The uniformed and the free.

“Sweetie, you can’t expect that to continue forever. Honesty is surely the best policy.” The voice at the next table was cool, and came with a hint of stuffiness. The rain now fell platitudinally. It pattered on the tall glass windows. The droplets hit and broke over the gold writing that I couldn’t read, because it was for those on the street looking in. The letters arched over the glass and the water from the heavens trickled down over each serif, stem. A slight wind outside meant that the droplets streaked a jerky graphical pattern over the window pane. The ups and downs moved so definitely, like some sort of graph plotting an unknown, universal trend. Letters and the graph and the stems and lines all joined together. What parody.

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