Friday, 13 March 2009
The cafes I mentioned in my last post was where a lot of couples met and paired off (for life in some cases) over a coca cola while the record of their choice melodically drifted out of the jukebox as they gazed lovingly into each others eyes.
My memories of these days begin with coming home from the sea and jumping into a hot bath, after painfully scraping the heavy growth of hair off my chin (simply delightful after days at sea working with fish) then a home cooked meal (another delight taken for granted now) before I started the real grooming process.
My newly ironed white shirt was laid out on the bed for me (by my mother of course) when I entered my bedroom for the final preparations, the suit and other attire would come in their turn. The suit was made to measure and tailored to my instructions with narrow legs and turn ups at the bottom, the jacket having one vent at the back.
I wore a narrow tie that was clipped onto my shirt half way down the front by a mother of pearl tie clip set in gold coloured metal (it looked the part) of which I had an array of as I used to buy a selection of them when ordering new suits which varied in pattern and colour but, the shirts were always white.
My shoes had buckles rather than laces with a slight heel on them which was the style then (a bonus to me at the time as my legs needed an extra bit of height)
and they were always highly polished by me. I took great pride in my appearance and made sure my shoes were ready polished long before I wore them and took great pains to get a good shine on them.
I had a sheepskin over jacket for the winter if it was really cold and a shortie corduroy stylish jacket for milder days.
After the trousers and shirt were on and the tie knotted to my satisfaction (I never got it right first time) I sat at the mirror and firstly splashed my face with "old spice after shave", sprayed my under arms with "old spice deodorant" then began the task of getting my hair correct.
Out came the "BRYLCREEM" which was thickly plastered into my hair then the parting was combed across before the Elvis style wave was meticulously shaped at the front then another mirror was held up so I could be sure the back was flattened down and not one hair was out of place. This took quite a while because if one hair was out of place MORE brylcream was added until it stuck.
Once satisfied I donned the suit jacket, grabbed the over jacket (if needed) and went down stairs to stand in front of another mirror while my mother brushed the fluff, hairs and dust off my suit then I would turn round and jokingly say "do you think she will like me?" Smart as paint and not a hair out of place I would walk out the door to catch a bus and the first gust of wind blew my hair all over the place leaving me with greasy aerial type protrusions sticking out at various angles from my head.
Undeterred I sauntered down for the bus and combed my hair again once I sat down only to have the same thing happen ten minutes later when I departed.
After all my preparation I walked into the cafe with my hair askew and a mild sweat building up within me from my brisk walk from the bus stop (shoes splashed with mud if raining) to face the girls I had went to great pains to look good in front of but thankfully, as the saying goes "its not the looks that count but whats underneath" must have worked for me as I always got the girl of my choice.
I was one of the ones who met their soul mate in a cafe but it was many years before we were allowed to be together as we went in different directions at first until finally our paths crossed again (no not a cafe this time) and we realised this time we wanted to spend our future together.
The cafe holds many treasured memories for me and the people of my generation but I often wonder what happy memories today's teenagers will have to look back on if all they have are drunken escapades outside in all weathers with the absence of the warm homely Italian cafe that we found solace in.