Seated beneath a stained-glass window in a cafe in Dublin, a man ponders his existence while awaiting the arrival of his order, a cup of coffee and an almond bun. Meanwhile in this story, an art gallery employee who accumulates parking tickets, pursues a woman with little enthusiasm or regularity.
This note I am writing in addition to diary entries which have led me, at last, to embark on a course of action.
The first time I considered noting the nature of my existence was eight months ago while sitting in Bewley's Oriental Cafe in Grafton Street. I was reading the newspaper, an item I am well accustomed to. I had once read the Irish Times, front to back, in a crowded lift which had broken down. I did not cause any discomfort; not even a raised eyebrow.
Subsequently, I would not reveal the name of the establishment where this failure and success took place because I did not like referring to inadequacies and I worried about creating unpleasant feelings. All I would reveal was that I had considered that there was no risk of disturbance involved only because I am well versed in handling a newspaper. I know that when folding it one should pay attention to the grain and grade of the paper in question.
As of today, however, I will not yield so easily to shyness. Much depends on my being in Bewley's Cafe tomorrow. Should you see me there it is hoped that I will not be making help signals.
LARGE COFFEE AND ALMOND BUNS, PLEASE
Oliver Power was the name written on the brown paper package. The coffee was wrapped the way shoe shops wrap your old shoes if you choose to wear the new pair.
I entered the cafe by the door on the right of the central window display. The door on the left was not yet open.
The smell of roasted coffee and freshly baked buns was on my mind and in the air. It was Friday, 8.30am. In the ground floor cafe the lights were switched on behind those of Harry Clarke's stained glass windows that are not illuminated by the sun. Throughout the rooms elderly clocks preside. They might be a minute slow, but they would never lie.
Bewley's Cafe has the only polished floors that I can walk across with confidence, but then the atmosphere of the place has always reassured me.
I was the first customer of the day at the coffee counter in the front shop.
“Two pounds, medium ground number one - finest Arabian,” said the Bewley's man, and slid the brown package over the counter to me.
“Freshly roasted?” I enquired.
I have always wanted to be a specialist. In what, I am not sure.
A TABLE WITH A VIEW
A waddling woman with a head-scarf moved past my table and took the chair behind. I had seen her before. It was in a lane. Much too old to be their mother, she had with her that day two small children whom she brought from parked car to parked car.
“Now, what have we here?” she had said. “A Morris Minor. You don't see many of them anymore. What do you think?”
There is a view from the shelf people get left on, even if it is crowded.
“Excuse me,” said the waddling woman as she made room for her chair. I apologized and moved as best I could.