Saturday, August 04, 2018

I Cried

Today in the cafe... it was a good day. Busy, but more importantly, many laughs were had. I can't express how fortunate I feel to be working with the current Team Awesome. Ari and Jodie are amazing humans. It's really sad to think that our paths might never have crossed, given that I can't imagine them not being in my life.

At the end of this beautiful day, an older guy comes into the cafe. He's on the phone organising coffee for other people. He says into the phone - yes, that's where I am now. Does Veronica want a chocolate brownie too? No? All good then. See you soon.

He orders three coffees and the chocolate brownie. I think it's a bit odd that he's wearing sunglasses on this overcast day.

As I make the coffees he tells me brightly, "Your coffee is highly rated by my daughter. She loves your coffee. She thinks you're the best barista in the area."

Naturally I'm happy to hear this and ask who his daughter is, thinking she must be a regular, maybe one I know by name.

"Oh, we've been in here a couple of times." His tone suggests I wouldn't remember them. Not regulars then. "My daughter is in hospital."

I keep glancing at him in the mirror, trying to remember. There is something there, but those sunglasses make it difficult. Then it comes to me.

"Have you both been in her exactly twice? And did you sit at that table by the door both times?"

He smiles at me. "Yes, that's us."

I remember them clearly now. They made an impression. They struck me as a loving father and daughter. I remember her plain beauty and something about her presence, her vibe. She seemed to me to be enthusiastic and appreciative. I remember her mentioning hospital and thinking she doesn't seem to have any injuries and seemed in good health. Maybe she was referring to someone else, I thought at the time.

Back in the present, I asked the man if his daughter is okay.

"Well... yes," he says through sunglasses clearly not worn as protection against the glare. "She has mental health issues that she has to be hospitalised for sometimes."

"Ah. I'm sorry to hear that. I do remember you both. She seems like a lovely person."

"Oh you got that right. Lovely person." In that tone, I can feel the love. "There's just this thing we have to deal with. We just have to get through it."

The transaction done, I tell him that I hope his daughter is okay and that I hope he is okay. I tell him to take care. He thanks me with a smile and leaves the cafe.

I close the door and... I don't know exactly what it is... the fact there is so much care and love about him or the fact that he is doing this mundane thing like buying coffee and sweets before returning to whatever it is that they have to get through, but watching this basically very decent, loving, gentle old man cross the road, it breaks me. Alone in my banged up little cafe, I just cry. I really fucking cry.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

If you are passionate
I will celebrate your passion.
If you re compassionate,
I will rejoice in your compassion.
If you are simple and kind
I will embrace your simple kindness.
If you give,
I will give.
If you take,
I will give.
If you love me,
I will love you.

If you are obnoxious
and hurt my friends
One day
I might forgive you.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Venom & Grace

Public announcement
of private thoughts
accusations claiming
grace over venomous voice.

Venomous voice was mute
until graceless actions
awakened dark voice
judging, judging
accurately.

But "Grace" is righteously claimed
in this public place.
but in another
private place
hey my boobs my boobs my fun boobs
my boyfriends dick in your face.

Grace.

I give to you my venom.
I take from you
your utter lack
of grace.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Boo

Out of the tangled ancient
history of humanity,
with my distant ancestors
and your distant ancestors
here we are,
me and you,
here in this modern place.

We talk of the days
and the days,
and the days
of mundane things,
and eventually we talk
of the meaningful things.

The things that are really important to us
right now.

Did you read that poem?
Did read that short story
Who is your favourite writer?
Did you see that movie?
Did you write that story
Did you write that poem?
Did you do that thing?

Did I mention,
how much I like talking to you?
And listening to you,
you with your distant ancestors,
and me with my distant ancestors,
here and now,
in this modern place.



Saturday, May 12, 2018

Today In The Cafe... You Never Regret Kindness

Today in the cafe... An older couple came into the cafe just after the kitchen had technically closed. They wanted some hot food. They liked the look of the soup. Sometimes you get a feeling about people, they just need some soup and a warm and quiet place to sit. I said yeah, sure, of course we're still open. The husband thanked me and apologised, saying they would have been here three hours earlier, but they had been stuck in St Vincent's Hospital. They loved the soup. I don't know their story, but I do know they needed that soup and that time out in a quiet and warm place more than I needed to go home.
Short time later, a paramedic walks in, clearly ready to walk back out again because clearly, we are closed.
Are you closed? she asks.
Yes we are closed, I tell her, but what were you after?
Just a couple of coffees...
An imploring look.
Of course I can do you a couple of coffees.
She was so grateful because, she told me, she had had such a busy day and had been trying to get coffee for most of the day but just didn't get the chance.
A paramedic's busy day isn't quite the same as a barista's busy day.
I was happy to end the day on two acts of kindness, because as a friend just pointed out, you never regret kindness.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Almost Face To Face, Stephen House At Butterfly Club, Review


Almost Face To Face

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose



It's difficult to determine who the real star is in this piece; the exquisite writing, or the equally perfect performance. That both are the work of the same person... truly impressive stuff.

Almost Face To Face is a one hour dramatic monologue – just one raw man on a bare stage - by master of the form Stephen House. It recounts his stories of his time in Dublin, living with an overweight prostitute/landlord. Don't be mistaken, these are stories of fringe-dwellers, the truly down and out, the broken ones we see on the periphery of our comfortable lives. Prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism, sex with strangers... it's all here, and it all feels so very, unflinchingly real.

Using the word exquisite when dealing with such subject matter might seem odd, but the writing of these gritty stories is absolutely exquisite. At times the monologues actually morph into poetry, a form I suspect Stephen House enjoys quite a lot. There is tenderness at times in the words, sometimes sadness, often anger.

And the delivery is equally well-executed. As a performer, Mr House has an impressive range. He can be a gentle soul, a weary soul, a broken soul and an angry soul all in a very short time. Sometimes as he prowls the tiny stage at The Butterfly club, so real is his passion that you may find yourself in goosebumps.

There is an authenticity to Stephen's work that makes them important works we should pay attention to. In a review of another of his pieces (Appalling Behaviour, which is referenced in this piece), I think I said he gives a voice to those fringe dwellers we never really interact with. The fact that he has lived much of his material and is so eloquently able to share such gritty stories with us – and indeed that he is so willing to do so – is theatrically and personally impressive. If you're open to this kind of thing, you'll find yourself in a gentle state of awe, and you'll probably feel a sense of gratitude.

Not all is gutter and grime. There is actually much humour, in these stories of these broken humans. There are a few chuckle-out-loud moments, but there are many other moments where something is so tragically fucked up and kind of funny that rather than laugh, your heart melts. It's so funny, you'll think, but so fucking sad.

If you get out of your comfortable home for just one performance this week, make it this one. I promise, you will feel enriched.

At The Butterfly Club until 12th May 2018. Touring to other capitals afterwards.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Writing, Frustration & Solitude

Why wanting/needing to write - or indulge in any other creative endeavour - is frustrating...

You work a long week, 50 hours or more dealing with people and people and people, when you are a poster-boy introvert. But you cope and if you're good at it, no one really knows just how much you crave solitude. You enjoy the interaction, when you enjoy it, and you love some of the humans and want to look after the broken ones, but through it all you look forward to some solitude and reflection.

But the weekend comes and someone has a thing, let's catch up for a thing, some drinks, a meal, a barbecue in the backyard or a party in the bush. And you like these things, but you don't get the chance to be solitary and reflective during the working week, and you certainly can't do it when you're socialising, so when? You're tired at the end of a 10 hour day, you're tired at the end of a fifty hour week, and you're accused of being antisocial if you don't want to catch up with friends on the weekend. Catching up with friends is what they do for their not-working time. At the end of a long working week filled with humans and their wonder and their weirdness, some of us want to be alone and just write a poem.

But we have to catch up. Must catch up. We must socialise and socialise and socialise and talk about things.

Leaving no time for reflection and imagination.