Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Snack Shop: Summer 2003

               It was a shocker; a truly knotty problem had daggled itself in front of Clare’s lifetime’s ambition surrounding the little village snack bar, unfortunately her parents unkindly refused her request for enough funds to acquire it.
              For the most part throughout her youthful pleasure, she had surveyed the said lone caff and from time to time angled for a look inside from the clever owner.  She craved for a sneak preview of the exquisitely decorated forecourt done up in pretty coloured ribbons, and the holy of holies, the pernickety kitchen, in which she imagined a fuss would be made around giant stoves of poultry, beaten meat for parties of over five and even Spanish omelettes cooked without the vegetables – it would be all arranged sympathetically to her own classic show of food awareness, taken from the shards of her dreams that had remained constantly renewable over the past decade.  Most of all, Clare wished for a caff that would open just for her own delight, where meat would be stored and prepared in a culinary ecstasy, placed on her table in a fashion in which she, and others of her choosing, could eat up to the limits of their imaginings.
              Of course, there would be no coffee, by far and away a disastrous drink of which she tended to spit out quite rudely if plied on her, much to the consternation of her evergreen parents.  Strong coffee had a habit of spoiling things, and she associated its uses with her forbears, ma and pa included.  Day by day she was foisted onto people who actually enjoyed the drink and they would do nothing but recommend it to her as fast as they could gulp it down fully.  She thought it too pungently disgusting, mean and awful to contemplate drinking a drop by herself, a bit like some of the boys she had know on her rounds outside the safety of the house.  Not that she ever had drunk a single whole cup of it before, but being in the same room as coffee lovers gave her an awful sinking feeling that brought out her weaker nature and an inclination towards violent behaviour based on deceitful impertinence.
              Back to the kitchen descriptors - she would hire big chiefs in charge that would not argue with her food preferences, and make an effort to ensure immediacy at serving times.  It was all very simple, to avoid boredom, staff needed to be trained in handling customers on the hop:  There would be no cold stews served up in her establishment, or a false need to play with the condiments before the appetizer, plumped down by an unapologetic waiter who thought he was far too clever to serve up dinners in the first place.  In fact, she would have no bored waiters on the job whatsoever, just the type who would sporadically laugh, play ad hoc games and make the customer try harder in their choice of viands included in the coming meal. 
              Her ruse was to open up the giant gates of public interest to mutton, chops, gravy, and chicken and also diced ham of a particular cut, it would be a huge success and it would be all in this particular little snack shop on the village green – her mind was already running away with all these delicious treats people could be having at a particular turn of the time.
              During the summer the place would be shut, as not enough people usually wanted to eat meat during hot whether.  This unusual caff was a Christmas thing – a time when the mind turned to ritually killing spare livestock just for the seasonal palette and then gradually abstaining for the most part of the year.  Hence Clare’s unhappiness, she was unable to peruse the flotilla of rooms emerging like flower petals, broaching the snug: a place where invited guests were encouraged to converse quietly amongst themselves without the incontinent clatter of food being transported from plate to mouth.  It had the effect of placing minds together during the off peak hours when the workers day were done and hidden wives came to collect the members of their family along home too bed.
              Following the torment of having very little capital to negotiate or bargain with for the caff, she had only the fool’s gold often threatened to be withdrawn from her by the parents following periods of breathtaking non co-operation, she thought that she may be able to regurgitate some sort of previous activity in accordance to amicably earning a flow of funds straight into her hands.
              It was a terrific embarrassment for Clare that the local district lads had ousted her with a successful bid to purchase the caff, aided and abetted by some kindly relatives - they were the boys who wheeled themselves around in barrows and the ones who conscientiously flew kites around common ground to gain attention from passing strangers at a whim.  They stopped their practice in favour of achieving joint management of the caff with all the paraphernalia described included in the terminal inventory.  This move turned out to be an incredibly disabling cause, proving Clare to become distraught beyond measurable gain and later causing her to sob soundly for hours until her unmoved parents found a way of simply turning her off.
              Upon the dreams winking out in greater numerals than the effort it took to make shapes from them, a slight attitude affected her mood.  She fetched the water, took it promptly to the boy’s street corner, and doused them in fluid until their hair became lacquered jet black.  It was hoped that this would put a stop to their cheerfully lofty aspirations by using what was a simple revenge formula.  The success needed for this jaunt badly eluded poor Clare and more creative energies seemed merited if she wanted to cavort with friends in her beloved snug partition, in the vicinity of her own caff, any time frame soon to be. 
              Clare wound up having to emulate the boy’s example, resorting to her existing friendly conventions.  She had picked out from her posh buddies a reflection on which she could rely upon the most.  Some stood the test of camaraderie, while others she found as destroyers, growing quarrelsome in open range to warrant any bother to approach.
              Eustace, above all fared to the top of Clare’s list of friendly faces; she was a shopping friend, a life long supply of quality time and would be there to hold her hand if need be – Clare knew she could bank on it.  This rose of kinship was not like the other treacherous options, including those now needing to wait, pending a reinstatement back into Clare’s ever roaming intentions.
               It was always difficult to spot Eustace when she was idling amongst the gasing women, never at liberty to venture an opinion or an observation on the size and colour of somebody’s dress.  She just stared intently at the peeking eyes that would wield themselves at her visage, wanting to appraise her figure from her head gear down to her snappy sandals, the ones with a huge golden buckle affixed to its side angles.  It was this that Clare intended to use to counter bid the boy’s offer on the caff but Eustace was unused to sharing her belongings, least of all to the petulant Clare who had assumed that anything of her ownership could be employed by a fashion guru and must therefore be worth quite a bit.
              “Its mine”, Eustace repeated fiercely half a dozen times in reply to the abandoned overtures of her despairing friend on her suggestion to sell the footwear.  Clare was then pushed never to mention the golden buckle in relation to the caff, but it cast far more weight then she supposed and the friendship waned dramatically for the time being.
              Next Helena’s bracelet became the object of desire for the asking.  Clare managed to borrow it for an evening but Ma and Pa confiscated it after she was caught tapping it on a stray radiator – she was told it wouldn’t be good for the circulation system.  Clare wondered if her caff would have a circulation system, she would have to look into it by asking plenty of pertinent questions about internal organisation, such as how many sweeps to employ to clean the flumes of smoke; whether their would be enough strawberries to cover the Winter season; if pets as well as grown ups would be allowed to consume food at her establishment and if it could be said that everything fluffy could go into one room – in this case she was thinking of the snug as a luxurious lounge complete with soft furnishings that customers could bounce and jump without remonstration, and would go along with the swing of the place.
              Clare and Eustace had a terrible time with each other after Clare’s unflappable parents had indulged their daughter’s need to be around friends of similar ilk and of good pedigree.  Thinking that Eustace was a perfect choice, they made a complete fuss over the arrangements, but according to Clare, they did it in such a lively ignorance of occasion, and by the time of the visit, Eustace had already received a hard slap, a ribbon extraction from her hair and a large bruise on her left leg after only an hour’s consultation.  Eustace fled back, yelling that Clare was out to murder her and that her mother was the wicked witch of the market – associated with a rather bland one-eyed woman who ran an electrical stall on the market plaza; she had a particular liking for Eustace, much to the jealousy of Clare.
              So the boy’s quickly claimed the caff for the alliance and changed it to an open bistro.  They took down the ribbons and replaced them with coloured flags called bunting who jumped to music whenever it was possible to evacuate the main food halls for the pleasure.  Most of all there would be vending coffee machines of sizeable proportions for all the parents to load themselves silly with a hardened caffeine intake, so that they would sit there shaking until close to home time, when they would be allowed to switch to beer instead – a preferred drink by many.
              Despite the better efforts of little Clare to claim her rightful kingdom, she had heavily lost ground, but many a day from that time on, she would sit secretively to eves-drop the boy’s planning meetings, just in case they would ever wish to relinquish their grasp on the delight of her life so far; perhaps it would drop into her hands as a gift from above, or below for that matter – which ever way one believed in. 
              But she did try one last time to ask for her parent’s help to take her back in time by some carefully construed machine, but they insisted that she was letting her imagination get the better of her and that their would be no sweets if she continued with her silly delusions ever again.


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