No stupid doodles today. Apologies if this dissapoints. Just a creative writing exercise based on a dissapointing breakfast.
I couldn’t say what system of events led me to be eating a lukewarm fried breakfast in a pub at nine am. It was one in a chain of notoriously cheap pubs. The beans looked sad, the eggs wept. I couldn’t say what led to me sitting there, on the hard backed bench at a sticky – oh so sticky table, poking listlessly at a breakfast that appeared more depressed than I was, but my mind had a good go at working out why everyone else was there.
Scattered sporadically about the place, shrouded in the dreary gloom of the building (odd to think given the glorious sunshine outside) were the local alcoholics. I often wonder what would possess a man to drink a pint of sickly sweet, synthetic tasting cider at nine in the morning. Though I have to admit, I do have some respect for them all. If I were to drink in a pub that early – not that I ever would mind – I’d order a coffee, and slip some whisky in it myself. I don’t do that obviously. I’m just saying if I was to drink early, which I don’t, that’s what I’d do – but I don’t. It takes a sense of courage, an integrity of character to sit there with a pint glass, filled with cloudy ale and boldly declare, ‘yes, I am partaking in an alcoholic beverage. Yes, I am aware what time it is.’
It’s a sorry state to be in true enough, but an entirely organic one.
Take Jane over there. Her name’s probably not Jane, but it’s the one I bestow upon her for the sake of convenience. Her face is lined, perhaps prematurely, because she smokes a lot you can smell it on her. She reeks of stale tobacco, she’s rank with it, it’s tangy and makes your nose shrivel up and your eyes go all twitchy. Like a gnome. Like a gnome having a severe reaction.
She’s old, but maybe not as old as you think is what I’m saying. Her hairs sort of thinning and wiry, it’s still black but time has dabbed it with strokes of prominent grey. She has a bitter looking mouth, twisted in a scornful little sneer. She wasn’t always like that. Obviously, logic dictates she was young once. Unless she was born old, but that’s a disturbing image.
She was once a hardcore feminist, fighting with a violent passion to smash that glass ceiling. When she was a student, I’m guessing English lit… or maybe politics. As I look at her now, taking a sip of my coffee, without anything in it, this too lukewarm (this pub has an inability to make anything even approaching hot) I think she may have done philosophy. Yeah, that’s it, I can see her discussing Wittgenstein or Plato.
She would have been beautiful once too probably, beautiful and knew it. One of those weird feminists that rails against being viewed as a sexual object, but exploits her obvious sexuality. The sort who opposes the shallow world, but keeps looking at herself in the mirror and builds her ego from compliments and lingering looks from the men whose oppressive dominance she wanted to overthrow. She marched against Thatcher I’m betting. I don’t know what. I don’t know much about Thatcher, I wasn’t born then and haven’t been interested enough to find out about her. She would have marched against anything going I bet. ‘Stop the oppressing slugs.’ ‘Down with the sexualisation of deckchairs – they have feelings too!’
Anything that made her seem like she cared. Like she was important. Like she was intelligent. Like she was bohemian and rebellious, but above all unconventional. No one liked being conventional. Her youth had been eroded and with it her looks. There was nothing to rebel against now. The world was far too liberal for her liberal mind. Her knowledge of epistemology and metaphysics hadn’t got her anywhere. Too many men had screwed her over. Too many passionate, but of course unconventional love affairs had gone awry. So here she sat. Drinking a pint of Guinness.
This breakfast really is disgusting. Over there’s Pete. He thought himself a sex icon once. Now his hair’s in full retreat whilst his belly is in full assault. It wasn’t a vanity based on aesthetics. No, it wasn’t the vanity of the mirror. IT was something else. See for his sixteenth birthday – no may have been his fifteenth, I don’t know I’m just guessing. Coffee’s nasty, but at least it’s free refills. Anyway, for his fifteenth birthday he got given a guitar, picked it up quite swiftly too. His fingers tap danced over the frets like no other. He grew his hair out and rocked the same way too. He would smoke a cigarette and wear a leather jacket.
He played his first gig in a pub. A shoddy sort of place, like this place only in the seventies. He felt like a god. He saw the way the men wanted to be him, and the women wanted to be with him, that old cliché. IT felt wonderful, in one of his lengthy solos a woman with prominent breasts whooped at him.
That night he smoked weed for the first time, got the giggles and had sex. Life was on the up for Pete after that.
He played all the pubs in his town, even some in London. He thrived on the applause, he was going to hit it big. Soon he’d be in the big venues, with some abstract concept album. He’d have all the sex he wanted – he could get it so easily – and maybe he’d die in some drug fuelled orgy, but in death he’d be immortalised and his record sales would go through the roof. If it was made of glass he’d be seen as a hero by Jane.
Unfortunately, in his excitement he forgot to write his own songs. It wasn’t long before his covers went out of fashion. People slowly stopped clapping, after a time they stopped listening.
He tried to break back into it not long ago I reckon. He didn’t get the adulation he felt he deserved. In fact people talked over his shoddy solos. He was out of practise, balding and fat. No one likes a balding fat man. So there he was, drinking the cheap cider he had always drank at his gigs. If the barman caught his eye, he’d try and talk about music. The barman would listen politely, because he was getting paid £6.45 an hour to do so.
Then there’s Christine. She’s perhaps a bit older than Jane. Hair short and in a perm. She came in every morning –eurgh! Cold slimy egg! It’s like eating snot, ever eaten snot? I don’t recommend it, it’s like eating a
cold slimy egg.
She comes in every morning. Orders herself a coffee. Says she is a coffee connoisseur. She always used to have a pot on the go when she wrote her novels. She was a keen writer. She was nice enough too, a bit dull though. Her lively prose and her poignant poetry gave an unrealistic interpretation of her personality. For all the wonderful thoughts that occurred in her head, she was just no fun. She’s a coffee connoisseur. Which is why she comes into a pub – renowned for is cheapness. For the wonderful exotic coffee. She wrote a book once, it was a love story perhaps. But a love story fraught, as they are, with difficulties, but that doesn’t matter because love conquers all. All you need is love. Love trumps hate. Love love love.
This coffee is disgusting.
But she is a connoisseur, so she’d use better words. ‘This coffee is a dark roast, perhaps from Ethiopian origins. Nutty textures, but altogether underwhelming on the pallet.’ She’s a connoisseur, but she’ll only have the one. Then, as she’s here, she may as well have a few gin and tonics. An officers’ drink that is. Maybe even a glass of wine why not? Whilst she’s here. She’s a coffee connoisseur, that’s what she came for, but she’ll be finished it soon, so why not – as she’s here – in a chain widely known for its cheapness, partake in a little
Her book was published. One of the big companies too. She told all her friends (who thought she was boring) she told her family (who thought she was boring but would never dare admit it, she was family) she moved into a flat with the payment. She planned her next five novels (all variations on a theme). Her novel was probably called something like – A Love Best Remembered – or something like that, I don’t know, I’ve never read it. Not the only one either, hardly anyone read it. It was panned. It was dull like her, the characters two dimensional probably. The prose would have been lively though. After a matter of months it was pulped. She didn’t write anything ever again. Which was a shame, because her poetry was poignant. In her youth she would have written something that would probably have a passage like this in it.
‘I said I would love you,
Until the day I die,
But I’m still alive,
And there are tears in your eyes
Isn’t the world much better,
When it’s packed full of lies?’
I like that. I’d read her poetry if she’d write any. But she won’t because she spends all her days drinking gin and tonic and wine. That’s the problem when you go for your coffee in a cheap pub. It’s inevitable. I don’t know why she doesn’t just go to Costa.
There’s one thing they all have in common though, them and the others dotted about the place. They’re all alone. All of them. Alone.
That was disgusting. The sausages, the bacon, the snot eggs, the sad beans. The coffee wasn’t bad in the end I suppose, at least it was free refills. I should have gone somewhere else though. These tragic characters depress me. With their sad dead youth, and their all too real presents. What’s even sadder is that very little of all that is likely to be true, how should I know? Chances are, they’re just drunks. Which is sort of sadder.
I better do something quick, lest I find myself joining them.