Back by the sea, bloody Barnacle Bill. This is a cafe at the far end of the bay. I have never been here because it is (relatively) new, and usually when I am out this way it is in the evening or late afternoon, when the sun is already behind the mountains. It is midday now, and sunny, so I am sitting outside. It’s a nice view, the island with the city in the background. I came to collect my bike, which I left at the office when it was raining. I am glad I am not in the office today.

I have a bun with some yellow jammy-type stuff on it and some dessicated coconut. So although I’ve never eaten one before, I’m not expecting anything too novel. I don’t think it’ll be anything special.

An elderly lady and her South American care worker are sitting at the next table and I have been eavesdropping. They seem new to each other, so now I know the old lady’s life story, with the emphasis on property acquisition.

My coffee is a bit cold, and the woman who served it wasn’t very pleased that I didn’t have anything smaller than a twenty to pay with.

Three people have come to sit at the remaining sunlit table (the rest are already in shadow). They look like smokers, so I was expecting a lungful, but so far they have contented themselves with nail biting, smartphone fiddling and telephonic conversation. They don’t seem likely to talk to each other, which suits me. But I have put my headphones on just in case. They’ve got whopping great sandwiches now. Puts my bun in the shade. I am eating the coconutty bits first. It doesn’t remind me of the coconut-coated products at Derby bus station in the 70s, which is what I was hoping for. I am obsessed with bus stations in the 70s, with their draughty shelters and fantastic fonts. The cafes had machines to dispense soft drinks. The liquid was sloshed around as if it were milk being churned. The yellow jammy bit turns out to be apricot. Its flavour has all the intensity of a gentle slope. I am reminded of the description of mass-produced sliced bread as, “nauseating gunk fit only for filling in the cracks in the wall.” Stodge rules.

Dionne Warwick sounds remarkably like Sandie Shaw at times, which brings us back to the gentle slope analogy.

A bearded man in an olden days fishing boat has just landed on the island. He got out of the boat and another bearded man got in. Maybe they are pointless smugglers.

A sparrow comes close to check out the crumb availability situation.

These Bacharach and David tunes, for all their delicacy, are pretty primordial: “let me grieve,” etc. “Your soul’s salvation will be fatally imperilled if you choose to exercise your right to reject my affection.” Heavy stuff.

The sparrows are ganging up now, like some kind of twee Hitchcock sequence.

‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ suddenly brings out the autumn chill in the air. This is sad. And like it or not, every word is the stone cold truth. I think of Dusty Springfield’s grave in Henley-on-Thames, me standing there at night wondering what to do, taking a break from a wedding reception around the corner, worried that someone might see me, alone in a churchyard, wearing a suit and holding a glass.

It’s time to go home.

(Thanks to Write Around Town and their Writing Maps and the unknown photographer)

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