I met a friend in the Queen of Tarts cafe for lunch today. This is my new favourite hang-out in Dublin. Yes, I realise that this means I am approximately 12/13 years behind everyone else but on the up-side, lots of people have moved on to their next favourite place, so it’s easier for me to get a table.
Today, I sat in the corner beside the big dresser with the bowls of vegetables. I like that dresser. I keep hoping someone will swirl out into the middle of the room chanting “I-a need some onions!” (for some reason they should sound like a gangster in a Scorsese film who’s making bolognese in prison), and then scoop up the whole platter of red onions to the delight of the tourists (and me).
I had tasty chicken pie and chocolate and then my friend left. I ordered some tea in a pretty china cup and saucer and settled down to some story-plotting. It was going very well when I heard a scream. A few tables to my left, panic spread quickly when a pie erupted to reveal four-and-twenty blackbirds who weren’t too pleased to find themselves being baked. Out they flew, attacking the Spaniards at the next table who were stunned into sudden silence. I was on the floor by then, wisely keeping my mouth shut (and my glasses on; I’ve seen The Birds, I know the drill).
When the whole restaurant went dark, I thought they’d got to the power. Lifting my head however, I batted away the wings and saw his silhouette in the doorway. He was tall. He was broad. He was Hitchcock’s worst nightmare. His name was Hearts, Knave-of-Hearts.
I wanted to stay and watch how he dealt with the flock but a wise gal knows when to scoot. Besides, some loon at the next table wanted a glass of milk to help him cope with the shock (Ugh!! Yuck!!! Horror!! Insert crazy word and/or expletive here but only before they deliver the damn icky stuff in its completely GROSS glass!!!). So I made a very undignified exit by crawling through the (sob!) broken china and crushed macaroons and found myself lying in the gutter on Cow’s Lane.
I’ve always liked the thought of looking at the stars at a time like that and Oscar Wilde and the nice people at The Gutter Bookshop agree with me, so in I went. I love this bookshop. I always think that if there had been a bookshop in Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, it would have been this one. There’s grass on the floor in the childrens’ section!!! How brilliant is that? And puppets too which are just screaming to be played with. I hung around for a while, humming Ooompah Loompah songs in the hope of luring them out from those little caves they live in, but no joy. In fairness, they were probably watching the Knave-related scenes up the road (he’s good but he’s not so silent). So I gave up and bought a book on the Camino Walk instead.
I’m tempted to do the Camino. There are many, many reasons why I shouldn’t – I don’t walk anywhere; I’m so unfit that when I go up to the top storey in work, I have to take a rest before I talk to anyone, otherwise they’ll just hear me gasping for breath for ten minutes; my luggage is always overweight at the airport; I don’t like flat shoes; I’m not really the outdoorsy sort; the list goes on. But they’re all just surface problems, aren’t they? I mean, if I really got into it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have to stop and set up home in some little town in rural Spain because I’m just too exhausted to keep going??
And even if that did happen, I’m sure I’d learn to make great paella. Once I keep the blackbirds out of the kitchen. My mind is made up. I’m off to buy those walking stick things tomorrow.