Performing in Public

My week was shaping into one of the best so far. Firstly I was still on a high from Tuesday night’s reading at Polari Literary Salon which is held at the Royal Festival Hall. I was astounded that I had been given this amazing privilege and opportunity so early in my writing career. And secondly I had taken a few days off from my day job to immerse myself in my writing dreams.  I couldn’t wait to tell Lil and Armando all about the performance, and wondered whether I should have invited them. However, as I was reading aloud from my blog I’m not sure I could have trusted Lil to keep quiet.

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I woke early, even earlier than I do on a usual work day and I didn’t feel like diving deep into the duvet and prolonging my slumber. The teasmade would be redundant today as I was up and opening the French doors and sitting in the warm early morning air with a glass of orange juice. I switched on the wireless – Radio 2. I wasn’t the biggest Chris Evans fan as I found him too enthusiastic for the sedate early morning, but I didn’t mind today; his zest for life was infectious. My Ever Changing Moods by The Style Council was playing which was one of my favourite tracks from 1984. However my mood would not be changing. Even a Lil-induced drama could not melt my joy. I dressed and enjoyed the short walk to the café. I passed several pedestrians I didn’t know and wished them a good day. It was karmic having a cloudless disposition. My definitive mantra of the day was, in with anger and out with love.

I opened the café door and announced a good morning greeting across all inhabited tables. A couple of patrons smiled, while others suddenly needed to stare deeply into their cups.

‘Get over here you silly sod,’ called Lil.

‘Morning Lil,’ I said and greeted her with a kiss. I blew a kiss to Armando who was stuck behind his counter with a customer ordering drinks on the run.

‘Have you had a funny turn? Why on earth are you singing Good Morning to everyone? This isn’t a Doris Day film. Bloody Nincompoop.’ Lil glanced at several other seated customers and shock her head in mock disbelief.

‘Lil, I’m having the best week after the first public reading of my work was well received on Tuesday, at the Royal Festival Hall, no less –’

‘Is that the one run by that other author woman?’

Armando joined us clutching a full pot of brewing Assam.

‘She attends yes, but it’s run by Paul Burston –’

‘Who’s he? –’

‘What are you talking about?’ asked Armando. Not even this sequence of interruptions would suppress my spirit.

‘My debut performance at Polari Literary Salon, and Paul is a journalist, author, DJ and founder of the event Lil. You’d like him.’

 

Lil harrumphed and folded her arms.

‘VG was there. She, as you know, helped me to prepare and gave me some great advice to employ on the day of the performance. She suggested that I only practice once on recital day and only take one glass of wine in advance, to settle my nerve.’

Lil didn’t unfold her arms.

‘I’d like a Full English please,’ she announced to a passing waitress.

‘And Greek yoghurt and granola for me please,’ I added.

‘Blueberry muffin,’ nodded Armando.

‘Never heard of this Paul character. What did you read?’ asked Lil.

‘I read a segment from a short story I’m working on and a blog piece about our Breakfast Club. How exciting is that?’ I almost giggled with excitement. It was great to be sharing this news with members of the actual coterie.

Lil put her cup down rather heavily on its saucer – it chinked back and forth – folded her arms and pursed her lips before releasing an enormous tut.

Armando didn’t react.

‘Right, which piece did you read?’ asked Lil with a cross edge to her tone.

‘Cyril Vicious’ ( https://berkeley34.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/cyril-vicious/ ) I said, ‘the audience seemed to enjoy it.’

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‘Was he there?’

‘Who?’

‘Cyril.’

‘No, at least I don’t think so. Remember I haven’t met him. Why would he attend?’

‘Isn’t it a gay and lesbian event?’ asked Lil.

‘Yes.’

‘Need I say any more,’ said Lil with a touch of professor about her.

‘I wasn’t sure you knew that for certain Lil. You surmised previously, from his choice of television programme, which by my reckoning isn’t a reliable divining stick.’

‘You wait until you meet him. You’ll know alright. Anyway thanks for the invite,’ said Lil.

Breakfasts arrived which at least caused Lil to unfold her arms. I stirred the honey in my yoghurt to allow for thinking time. My response would require a certain delicacy.

‘You would of course have been welcome Lil. I didn’t realise you would be up to going to South London at night and I thought you might be busy with Marty.’

‘What about Armando?’

‘I knew he had an evening event here at the café.’

‘What do you mean, busy with Marty’. Lil tutted and continued, ‘I’m not sure I’d have gone anyway to be honest,’ she said as she squirted pulp from a juicy tomato across her plate. Silence fell for a few minutes as hunger overcame conversation.

Lil was the first to speak again, and while pushing a button mushroom around her plate said, ‘I read your blog Wayne and I’m not sure you represent me properly. I’m sure I don’t remember having half the conversations you ascribe to me, especially the ones with Mavis. I’m not sure she should even make an appearance in the blog ’

‘It’s my interpretation of our meetings Lil, and they are pretty spot on, in my humble opinion.’

‘I’m not sure I want everyone knowing my business. It’s one thing having a blog where a few people might happen upon it, but to be reading it – out loud – at the Southbank. What on earth would we do if it got, you know, popular?’ Lil was, I think, trying to goad me but I was too calm and busting with positivity to get drawn in that easily.

‘Popular?’ I asked in a playful tone, ‘what do you mean?’

‘Well I don’t want any Tom, Dick or even Harry turning up here wanting to meet me. We’d have to start wearing disguises or change location,’ said Lil.

‘What! Change location. How could I?’ asked Armando. He’d suddenly woken up at the thought of losing some business. ‘Although I’d welcome the additional customers…’ Armando drifted off into a world with potential punters queuing outside to get a chance to see Lil at a Breakfast Club. I could see pound signs flashing in his eyes.

‘Don’t be silly, the pair of you; we’re not going to change location and I think it’s far too early to be worrying about anything of the sort,’ I said starting to get a little cross with the pair of them.

‘Ha – got ya,’ said Lil, ‘now don’t bloody flounce in here like that again.’

‘I think that calls for a fresh pot,’ projected Armando to the kitchens.

I smiled. I was determined to keep my good mood.

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2 thoughts on “Performing in Public

  1. Wayne, this is a delightful piece. You have brought the scene in the cafe to life but also allowed your readers to feel the boulevardier’s happiness and Lil’s affection for him. x

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