Friday, 5 September 2008

The most beautiful woman I've ever seen

It was evening and the soft lamps which lines the large windows of The Wanderer were glowing softly in the evening light. It was that special time in a scottish summer night when the sun glows apricots, salmon pink and gold on the North Sea, streaking the cold water with glitter. There was a soft chatter coming from a few customers who sat in the coffee shop enjoying the evening light and Lilith's coffee, among them was Tulip who was nuzzled into the corner of the big sofa with her crime novel and soya latte. Everything was becoming routine and Lilith was smiling softly and looking out at the long black shadows cast by the evening sun on the little lane. A girl appeared outside the shop and swung her long plait over her shoulders as she swung the shop door open.


Lilith snapped out of her stupor and looked up at the tall girl's face. The girl smiled at Lil, confidently, with excitable almond shaped eyes set in a small face with a heart shaped mouth and buttery smooth skin, luminous like cocoa butter. She also wore a bright orange t-shirt which fitted loosley and carried an expensive looking handbag over her right shoulder.

Hello, a small capuccino please. The girl said in a soft american accent.
Sure, Lilith said, in a small voice, trying to sound in control of her post.
Excuse me, do you have semi-skimmed milk, or skimmed? She asked politely, as she saw the full fat milk carton in Lilith's hand.
Sure, Lilith said, and she reached into the fridge for the skimmed version.

Luckily, the coffee machine purred and behaved, producing a creamy capuccino for the girl. She handed Lilith the £1.60 between beautifully manicured finger nails, painted a pale shade of expensive pink. Her hands were smooth and her fingers long. Lilith then looked at her own hands for the first time that day and felt they were short and stubby in comparison.

Thank you, the girl said with another soft twang. She cocked her head slightly...
Do you go to school here?
No, I'm just working at the moment.
Oh, you've finished then?
High school? Yeah...
[The american laughed]. In America, we call "school" what you guys call Univeristy. Sorry, that's what I meant. I forget that sometimes.
Oh, Lilith said laughing and trying not to stare too long at the girl's perfect face.
Do you? Lili managed.
Yeah, I study bio informatics at the Uni here.
Oh cool, Lil said, raising her eyebrows and nodding.
Yeah, I studied at Princeton in the USA and now I'm here. I've actually only been here about six months though. I get coffee here a lot, I've never seen you. Is Paulie away?
Yeah, he hired me and then took off pretty quickly. He'll be back in the next few days though, she added quickly.
Great. The american took a deep swing from the coffee and Lilith watched her gulp down the hot liquid that she'd just made.
Have you done any travelling?
No, I grew up in Glasgow and this is pretty much my first stop. I'm here for the summer... I'd like to though.
You definately should, it's the next best thing to Uni.
Have you been lots of places?
God, yeah [she drank again]... I've been all over Europe with friends, France, Spain, Milan, Switzerland... I'm actually half Italian.
Oh, Lilith smiled and looked again at the unblinking almond eyes. You look sort of Italian. She said with a smile.
Thank you, she said, her face lighting up. She seemed to relax a little, letting a little of the confident sheen disperse into normality. She swung back her head and drank the rest of the capuccino, a rosy glow on her cheeks as the blood rushed into her face from the caffeine.
I love the coffee here, I'll definately be back.
Great, said Lilith earnestly.
The American handed Lil back the coffee cup and swung her handbag back over her shoulder. Lilith caught the gleam of a Gucci 'G' on the front. It was made of soft camel coloured leather and looked great against the orange top. The girl slid on a large pair of sunglasses and waved a quick goodbye before setting off briskly down the increasingly dark street towards the Uni. Lilith stood still in the coffee shop, looking around at the other customers to see if they too had been watching this Unicorn rider. Nobody appeared too. Lilith ran her finger over the smudge of pink gloss on the side of the cup and it smelt like strawberries. She smiled and blushed to herself as she put the cup in the dishwasher and sat down again as the summer evening came to a close.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Phonecall to Dave Macdonald, Dad.


Lilith's mobile phone rang underneath the desk.

Lilith, it's me.
Hi Dad.
How're you getting on?
Fine, just fine. I've got a job.
Not in a bar?
No, a coffee shop.
Oh, good.
I don't have anywhere to live yet, though, cousin is still letting me stay in the hotel.
You should look for somewhere.
Will you come over and help me?
I can't, I'm taking Pippa to Tenerife.
Oh, I thought you went a way in January...
It's just a short trip, only ten days, um, but when I get back I'd love to help you.
What about Tim?
He's staying with your Mum [pause] it's not that we didn't want to take you or Tim, darling, we just can't afford four people. It's just not do-able, don;t get upset.
Yeah, whatever, I have to go, I'm at work just now.
Oh right, well I'm glad you're getting on well. Don't let me keep you.
[muttered]Don't let me keep you.
Look after yourself.
I am, have a nice time in Tenerife. Send me a postcard.
I will.
You don't have my address...
I'll get it off your mum.
Bye Dad.
Love you sweetheart. See you when I get back.


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Mark and David


It was around 10AM and two men carrying briefcases walked briskly into the coffee shop. They were talking loudly about the situation in Burma and arguining over a delicate political matter. One of the men leant over the wooden desk and took off his glasses rubing the ridge in the top of his nose.
'...but Mark, I'm afraid you're missing the point. These people are completely unpresented. It is bullying, it is tyranny and we are completely unable to tackle it without the backup of the USA.' Lil looked at them calmly from the otherside of the desk. She was staring a little closely so that the man who had been talking interrupted himself and looked round at her, as if coming out of a transe.
'Hello, good morning, I've not seen you here before.'
'Morning,' she said smiling.
'Excellent,' he said, flicking his eyes over her and staightening up.
'I would like a strong capuccino with one shot, not two, and...Mark?'
'An americano please, with a little cold milk.' Lilith turned round to the coffee machine and with a little more ease, banged out the coffee grind and sent more puffs of acrid smoke into the air and seemed to fuel the debate again which she could hear going on again enthusiastically behind her.
'It is surely a question of human rights, screw the hierarchies, it's about liberty. They've got no fucking freedom of speech, for God's sake.'
'I quite agree... I just feel the press could be doing more, I mean, what's on the front of the paper this morning? Fearne Britton loses ten pounds? Who gives a flying flock when people are so utterly repressed that it makes one sick.'
'I know, I know.' Said the other man as Lilith carefully placed two very full cups of coffee infront of them. The froth on the capuccino was certainly better but she knew it was still not up to scratch. She avoided both men's eyes, convinced she was wearing the guilty look of an utter coffee novice.
'Right, right,' said the brisk man, whom she gathered was called Dave as the very next second:
'Dave, Mark! How are you both?' It was Tulip calling over from the sofa and putting down her crime novel.
'Tulip, how are you?' Said Mark in a gentle voice. Both men took their briefcases over and seemed to abandon their political talk infront of the woman, in favour of hushed whispers and glances over to the desk where Lilith stood, trying to look occupied.

Walnut cookies are TASTY

Recipe: 115g butter/ margarine
175g Caster Sugar
115g Plain Flour
2tsps Vanilla Essence
115g Chopped Walnuts

1) preheat oven to 150/ Gas mrk 2. Grease 2 baking sheets.
2)Cream butter till soft and add 50g of sugar. Beat till fluffy.
3) stir in the flour, vanilla essense and walnuts.
4) Drop teaspoonfuls of batter 1-2 inch apart onto baking sheet.
5) Bake for 25 mins
4) Sprinkle remaining sugar over cooked biscuits.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Tulip likes soya lattes

At around 9.15AM a large and cosy woman walked past the front window and opened the door calmly.


Ambling over to the desk she smiled brightly and the gypsy jewellry which dangled around her neck and down from her ears twinkled in the morning sunshine. She turned to face the sun streaming in the window.
'What a lovely morning it is, isn't it?' She said, inhaling the warmth.
'Yes...' said Lucy.
'I'd like a soya latte, dear, thank you.'
'Sure.' Said Lucy as she got out the soya milk and had another go and taming the dragon.
'I've not seen you before, little one, what's your name? Do you work here now?'
'I'm Lilith, sorry, yes I do. I'm here for the summer, my cousin owns this place.'
'Oh, it will be a wonderful place to work, the people who come in here are such loves. I hope you make good coffee.'
'I will, soon' Lil shouted over her shoulder and then immediately bit her lip as she tipped and poured hot milk into a cup with some slightly gritty espresso.
'There we are' She said triumphantly, even though it looked a bit too frothy and sloppy for a latte.
'Oh no dear, that's not my cup. I take the one over there with the tulip on it.' The woman said, calmly but precisely.
'Oh, I'm sorry, Pualie said about this... here you go.'
'Wonderful, thank you dear.'
'1.70, please'.
'Here you are, but just so you know, Paulie usually gives it to me for £1.20 because I'm a regualr.'
'Oh, right.'
'We'll do it next time, next time, never mind.' She smiled warmly and took a sip out of the tulip mug. 'Divine, sweetheart, lovely to meet you' and her nose twitched a little as she took the mug away from her painted mouth and wrigled into the large brown sofa which sunk a little under her generous behind.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Italian customer

Grab the lipstick Lil thought as she picked up her handbag and smeared the sleep out of her eyes. She found the keys for The wanderer behind the remote control of the hotel tv in her room. She ran down the heavy staircase whilst fingering the knots out of her thick hair and holding the bag handles between her teeth. Nico was standing at the bottom of the stairs as she sped past him.
'Wow girl, better urry, don't want to be late for your first shift, I hear its today!'
'Yeah, thanks Nico,' she shouted behind her sarcastically and continued down the cobbled lane to the shop. It was only just light outside as she got to the big windows and she felt pretty satisfied about opening up somewhere on her own. It was something she'd never done before. The key slid and clicked satisfyingly in the lock and she stepped up into the shop, still wearing her flip-flops and ran her fingers through her light hair. Out of breath she looked at her watch and she had made it just in time.


A customer already? She thought to herself.

'Ello? Ello? Are you open yet?' An Italian voice broke in from behind her. Her heart jumping she whizzed round.
'I'm not ready yet, it's my first day. Just give me... a minute.'
Lil looked at the coffee machine which looked like an armoured dragon which would yield unwillingly to her little hands.
'Uh', she stuttered.
'Excuse me, it's eight o'clock unless you aav not noticed and Paulie e' a usually as' my espreeeso ready for me.'
'I'm not Paulie,' she said. There was a pause.
'Ah, you are joking, very funny. I'd like it now please... I'll just av a look at the papers while you get yourself sorted.'
Shit, what papers? Lil thought to herself.
'Aand, no papers. Hah, more joking. '
'I wasn't told to get newspapers,' said Lil, getting flustered. The Italian turned round, his hand on an attractively broad hip, revealing an expensive leather belt under a well-cut jacket with an open neck shirt. He cocked his head:
'You are either stupid or a very useless barista, not like the girls in Italy but no matter because you av' the face of a little angel. You are Scottish, yes?'
'Beautiful, yes, different...pale.' There was an awkward pause.
'Ok, so I make my own coffee today,' he said, elbowing her out of the way gently and turning to the machine. Again it purred and spat under his cool guidance and left a creamy little half cup of espresso.
'This is it, take a look at it, you av' it?' Lil laughed a little despite herself.
'Good...[he swung back his tanned neck in one go] and it is gone. I av' to go now... goodbye little pale one, I see your freckles tommorow?'
'Yes, I'll be here, thanks for setting things up.' The Italian picked up his leather satchel and opened the wooden door into the sunlight which was now peeling through the windows heating up The Wanderer and making Lilith blush.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Paulie and the coffee machine.


The door swung open casually as a tall, lanky boy with pale skin and shoulder length dark hair walked in. He wore glasses and focused his eyes on Lilith.
'Hey, I'm Paulie, sorry I'm a bit late. What time is it?'
'It's 8.15 I think, I'm Lil.'
'Hey Lil'. 'So, you found your way down here alright? The ol' man show you in?'
'Yeah, he gave me a set of keys actually.'
'Well, he's turned the machine on which is whack,' he said approaching the machine and dumping his rucksack behind a curtain which appeared to lead to a kitchen. 'come over here and I'll start showin you the goods.'
Paulie was so tall he had to bend down a bit to see into the tray of the coffee machine but she guessed he weighed about as much as she did.
'So this is the baby and he's called Tim,' he said stroking the metal with a long hand. 'you'll respect him, I'm sure, as we all do.' 'He's a sweet thing if you treat him well... alright'.

He pulled out spouts that hissed, clamped something on, tore something off and set the coffee grinder whizzing. A cloud of bitter smoke belched into the air as he slammed the lid on the grinder shut and steam poured outfrom under the counter as he kikcked the hatch open to reveal a dishwasher tucked away under there. He shouted at her: 'I'd prefer not to use a dishwasher because of the electricity or whatever but Mr Forester like things clean and makes us use it,' and he pulled out some white cups which he clanged on top of the coffee machine. Then he shouted:
'We keep the cups here but there are different cups for some customers, the regulars, i don't expect you to know who they are but I'm pretty sure they'll be tellin' ya if you do something wrong or give them the wrong cup. They can be pretty mouthy.' Lilith raised her eyebrows and nodded her head. Suddenly the noise stopped as the coffee grinder whizzed off with the flick of a switch and Paulie whipped round:
'Alright, this is super important, this is the cream of the shot. So, you knock the old stuff out like this [WHACK] and you slide in some new stuff [another belch of coffee dust] then you knock it and press down hard with one of these. This is extremely important and you don't want to get an uneven pack or it will taste bitter and shit. Following me?' Lilith nodded.
'Come closer, stop looking scared.' So she leaned in closer and peered around his large bony shoulder.
'Now, puch it up here nice and hard and then you start the water flow. See how it looks nice and creamy and it's whipping around like a mouse tail?'
'That's what you want. Nice and slow and steady and when it hits the cup it should hit on the side, not the middle, and leave a creamy layer of espresso. If there's no creamy bit, you've done it wrong.' He said looking at her straight in the eye and pointing a finger horizontally. She looked away quickly and pursed her lips.
'Pretty daunting stuff.'
'So, try it now, I'll drink your one and you can have mine, which of course is excellent,' he said, his eyes twinkling playfully. So, Lilith moved over to the machine and it felt much larger in front of her. The tray came right up to her chest and her eyes didn't even make it over the top of the machine so she had to fling her hand up there and feel around for a cup.
'Right, start with the coffee.. ok, take a cup, it doesn't really matter which first.' Paulie said making to get up and then leaning back against the counter again. Lilith tentatively opened the coffee tray which already had some burnt cakes of coffee in it and hit the filter holder out over a wooden bar. [THUD].
'That was pathetic'. He said as half the cake had crumbled out leaving the rest stuck in the holder. So she went for the opposite and [BANG] the whole thing came out in one, heavy, cut.
'Wow, ying yang, get the balance. Oh, watch the handle...' He made to get up again and as she shot him a look he backed off on to the counter.
'What now?'
'Fresh coffee' He said. So, she felt around for the switch with her left hand and set the grinder buzzing.
'ALL OUT COFFEE IS FAIRTRADE BY THE WAY.' Shouted Paulie over the noise.
'WHAT?' Shouted Lilith with her back turned.
'I SAID ALL OUR COFFEE IS...[the grinder stopped] FAIRTRADE!' 'Ow, my head hurts,' thought Lilith to herself as she felt last night's alcohol coming back to the edge of her throat. She swallowed hard.
'Pack it in,' Said the voice which was annoying her increasingly from behind. So, she swund the heavy coffee filter back up into the machine and flicked the espresso button. The coffee flew out at break-neck spead and looked like gritty, dirty water. It was finished in about five seconds, unlike the cool, creamy thirty seconds it took Paulie and she looked down at it, rolling her eyes to herself.
'Show me' Said the perky voice. She picked up the cup with withering pride and handed it to him.
'Hmm' he said as he swirled around the dark mixture to reveal surfacing coffee grunk.
'It takes practice'.
'So, come back tomorrow and you have your first shift. I'm going off to France for five days, my parents have a vineyard out there.' Really? Lilith thought to herself.
'Oh, you just look... um, a vineyard?'.
'Yeah, they grow organic grapes and mash them on the spot. It's totally legit and they're actually starting to make some money, which is great.'
'Wow, the life of the bean and the grape.'
'Totally, man'. 'Good to meet you and just show up at 8am tommorow'. Do you have keys?'
'I have keys but not a clue how to make coffee.' She rolled her eyes sarcastically.
'You'll be fine. The customers are totally astute. They'll sort you out, just chill.'
'Ok, but I think I might stay here this afternoon, it's just I don't really have any othe rplans, so I'll just watch you or whatever'.
'Don't watch me... uh, but you can have this coffee and sit on the sofa.'
'Sweet,' she said as she sipped her second creamy coffee of the morning and sunk into the leather sofa nursing her head.