I love attention to detail, especially when strangers turn to kindness when you least expect it. There have been many such occasions, but I will just mention the last one as it is still fresh on my mind. I work part time in a Health centre, doing mostly late shifts, which means half the time I miss lunch and head over to start work; hurriedly trying to grab a quick soup and toast if I can. I mention it in the context of the small fishing town where I am working. You see, for many of the local businesses this has been a very hard winter and they wear it on their faces. Tramway works have disrupted the main road and affected trade, may it be the newsagent, the multiple fish and chip shops and cafes. A few people have lost their incomes and jobs and there is little that the local council can do to help them, apart from some meagre pounds. It broke my heart yesterday, when I saw a patient who did not have enough money for a prescription for painkillers as she was not breaking even with her business...You can only do your best to suggest over the counter medications and how to help them via prepayments cards, etc...
But as the title suggests, I am meant to be writing about Cafe Marina, this little cafe across from the Health Centre, where I am greeted every time with a smile and a hot pot of Redbush tea as soon as I walk in the door. You see lately I promised myself I would try to be a healthier me, leave home early and sit down for a proper lunch before the start of a hectic day. It is a quaint little corner cafe which has obviously aged with time but still stands with grace. There are only a few handful of tables and chairs and individual menus advertising mushroom pie. The walls are filled with signed photos of actors from the 1950s mostly, all autographed to "Derek". Comedy actors, British actors and a few Hollywood stars. There are even two little gems of number one takes from the productions of " The King and I" by Walter Lang and " Gentlemen prefer blondes". And just as you start to feel you are lost in a different era, the radio starts playing "Every time we say goodbye" by Ella Fitzgerald. I could not help a smile and when the old couple sat next to me started humming the tune to the next song "It's...Strangers in Paradise" as soon as the first few bars started. They looked content as they definitely got it right. The young teenage girl sat across from me looked a bit uncomfortable and growing restless, as if she had been dropped from an alien spaceship which made the whole encounter incongruous and that more delightful! She did not order I noticed as she appeared to be waiting for her father. But even after he did arrive and sat down to eat, still she did not order.
I, on the other hand, was day dreaming during this whole scenario, wondering who Derek was and what he might have been like chasing all those precious signed photos from all over the world. I must ask the new owner, but I am still building the courage to do it. Perhaps I just don't want to spoil the fantasy I have created in my mind... There is a lot of that going on.
Before I digress again, kindness is the word, as they always welcome me with a smile and the brewing tea and head in my direction to take the order. I know I am a paying customer and always leave a tip and this might not seem like much. However I love the familiarity of the place and the way that they just leave me be without asking too many questions and yet there is this quiet air of acceptance. The new owner has not had a day off in a few years, he is a tall, calm gentleman and very quietly spoken. I suppose you would have to be in the current financial climate to be able to cope. The lady serving has visibly gone through a lot of problems recently as I can not help listening to the local chatter; after all I am now one of the "regulars"... Her sister works in the kitchen and does a lovely scampi. I have ordered it a lot, and actually have to stop myself for fear of sounding too boring with my choices! I usually get a smile and a little laugh when I reply " I think I will go for the scampi today".
So there it is, small gestures and acts of kindness and attention to detail which lends themselves to appreciation and contentment.
I asked the owner and it turns out that two men used to run the cafe and were involved in the catering of theatre and film productions before it was sold 7 years ago. Apparently there are walls full of autographed pictures upstairs which the new owner hopes to share it with the public once they have done renovations.