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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Local Author Matt Jacobson reflects on a visit to a cafe in a village on the Merseyside Coastline

‘Round round, the rhythm of life goes round’ 

A trip to visit a friend took me to the exact point where the glitz and glamour and vibrant noise of city life is replaced with a quiet and complete coastal world. Where everyone agrees to live life with a library of silent rules and regulations and where slower pace activities are played out amongst picture postcard scenery. I was eager and keen to catch up with my friend so for once I was early, too early, so I decided to walk around the village to find a cafe for a much needed morning hot drink.

The village was quaint and peaceful. A beautiful collection of dwellings and delightful stone buildings were wrapped up with serene village greens and tied together with ribbons of pretty pathways. I could sense and feel a community as locals passed me by. They nodded to each other with an elongated ‘good morning’ played out with theatrical expressions and demeanor. Shops opened and the owners waved to others and a delivery driver expressed a community sentiment as he informed others of the current protective status “our village is quiet today”.

I walked and walked, then turned a corner and found a cafe that was open. It listed 420 items of food and drink that I have never heard of nor understood their meaning. I am a simple man with not much to gain nor lose, so I moved away with a blanket refusal to educate myself in the possibilities of the palate and the gorgeous options of grub and I carried on through the village. I really didn’t want something that was elaborate, and I certainly hoped I did not meet a major chain coffee house as the branded coffee shop of today now consists of everything but basic normal coffee, enjoyment or simply any peace.

I headed over the road and just on the edge of the village I faced a stream of several shops that looked like they could meet me somewhere in the middle of my breakfast request. They stood in front of me and saluted me. It felt like an army of essential retail shops staring at me, I was wondering if they were welcoming me in, or just about to tell me to piss off home. But as I scanned the windows of each one my fears were eradicated. I found a coffee shop that was all me and it was just like me – a little tired and worn. I stood outside and carefully reviewed my surroundings; I could see curtains, flaking paint and a colourful painted menu was on its window and door. The letter ‘e’ was fading and missing from the selection of hot drinks, now with Coffee, the impact isn’t too bad, but with Tea?

But I still knew – this is the place for me. I opened the door; chimes delicately played a welcoming fanfare and a radio station played songs I had never heard before. Then a warm voice greeted me from behind the counter and from behind the fridge door: “Have a seat son, I will be over soon.” I thanked the hidden fridge lady of mystery and sat down just by the window where I could watch the world.

Local Author Matt Jacobson reflects on a visit to a cafe in a village on the Merseyside Coastline
Matt Jacobson – Photograph by Michelle Marshall

The chairs and tables were comfortable, and the decor was comfortably real. The atmosphere was no frills, just the life I lead. I was then handed a menu and it was now mine for scrutiny. In split seconds, I had ordered my coffee with tantalising toast. As I waited, the cafe filled up only slightly, but people arrived all whispering and respectful in the breakfast boardroom

I looked out of the window at the buildings opposite the cafe. The greenery glistened and the trees were listening to nature’s request to enhance the area with branches majestically and gently sweeping in the breeze, adding paint brush strokes to the sky. Cars and vans sporadically drove past with a respectful speed. And the birds, cats and dogs all had the freedom of the land. They seemed to own the space and each bush, tree and grass verge were their bed, playground and home. The sweet sound of nature is calming and can carefully nudge me to happiness. If only I heard it more often. I sat and wondered who lives in this area and wanted my friend to tell me more about it. I thought about the residents and what their story is, and what it must be like to live here, day and by night? But my thoughts were halted as coffee and toast arrived in front of my face and, let’s be honest, I would stop anything in life for this delicious duo.

Local Author Matt Jacobson reflects on a visit to a cafe in a village on the Merseyside Coastline
Matt Jacobson – Photograph by Michelle Marshall

An elderly couple sat nearby and began chatting away to their daughter and their young grandchildren. They leant in and whispered to the children: “After school we will have a picnic, then bake a lovely cake and have fun.” The children were ecstatic, they hugged each other then sat on their grandparents’ knees until they had to leave. “Bye, see you later!” they screamed out loud, their voices crashing around the cafe as their lunchbox and school bag hit every chair in the cafe. And off they went through the door waving passionately and leaning against the window, but accidentally scraping the letter ‘a’ from the already reduced tea. A few minutes later, they were laughing and waving from the car as the grandparents beamed with pride.

The elderly couple looked at me and apologised for the noise.

“Please, no need to apologise, you are their heroes.”

“No son, they are ours.”

“What will you do with your day now?” I asked.

They thought for a few moments until the elderly gentleman said with a smirk:

“I may go to the pub”, but he was stopped quickly in his tracks by his wife.

“Come on you, you are not going to the pub, you can come shopping with me.”

He smiled and said: “One day son, one day I’ll get there. What brings you here?”

“I’m meeting a friend today” I replied.

“Well enjoy and lovely to meet you.”

“And you” I replied.

We all smiled, and they left. I then texted my friend asking for a rough time of arrival and confirmed my location. And I watched the couple hold hands as they walked down the street, they swapped bags, so the gentleman carried the heaviest bag and they also linked arms as they slowly crossed the road. They had a day to themselves ahead but knew it wouldn’t be long before their grandchildren completed their day. I then thought of them all, laughing and playing in the café – it was beautiful to watch. As time zips by, generations swap roles but for them, for now, life and its journey was ongoing and they were going to enjoy it.

Matt Jacobson – Photograph by Michelle Marshall

Their love combined and entwined with heartwarming finesse. Life looked perfect for them. As an outsider, they had shown me the potential in life and the best of this worrying world. The love and connection they had for each other looked intriguing, mysterious and totally unreachable. Would that happen and appear for me? Would I be happy if it did, or would I be happier if it didn’t?. The couple and their family had left an impact on my day and made me question myself and everything about me. And then I realised that I’d never see them again and I was right, I was so sadly right. In the distance I heard a loud disturbing noise that shook me, that really shook me…

My phone had vibrated and a text appeared: “Matt, you are in the wrong F****N village”

With Love and Peace

Matthew Jacobson

Explore Liverpool

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