Tuesday, 22 September 2015

...When I lived in Australia

I worked in a cafe. The Queen of Tarts was situated on Cappuccino strip in Fremantle,
W. A., and was a small, somewhat shoddy set up, which frankly suited me. Over time, I pretty much ended up running the place. Making juice all day long.

It was a great place to work. Mainly because of the great people I met; commuters passing through on the way to the train station and their own place of work.

Digressing slightly... but when I was a kid, and again when I was in Oz, Alan Ball was the manager of my father's beloved Portsmouth Football Club, affectionately known as Pompey. And as a kid, all I remember of Alan Ball is a squeaky high pitched voice. This was because my mum, whenever his name was mentioned, never failed to pipe up (in a squeaky high pitched voice) 'Little Alan Ball'. Turns out, he's also little.

Anyway, back to the cafe, and one day an English chap came in and ordered brekkie. We started chatting about home, and after I'd told him I was from Portsmouth, he said how he happened to know the Pompey manager very well. To which I instantly replied - yes, in a high pitched squeaky voice: 'What, little Alan Ball?' The man clearly taken back, nodded distastefully and said, 'Yes, and I'm rather fond of Alan.' I retreated to the kitchen.

As far as the juice, before long, I had regular customers asking me to concoct something for them depending on their mood and energy levels. (I love Australians, for both their frankness and openness). Anyway, here I am with a high-functioning juicer - the likes of which you only find on commercial premises - and my vivid imagination. There's not many ingredients I didn't have a go at throwing in. Eventually I found my absolute favourite (apple and ginger), along with my customers' individual absolute favourites too. I'll never forget this customer...

...It was another stinking hot day. I had been left to lock up, and my shift was almost over, when a tall man approached the glass counter. I remember his height was emphasised by the fact that he stooped. Or was it that he was looming over the glass counter? Falling forward? Falling backward? It was a 50/50 chance really. My first impression was that he was pissed. But actually, it dawned on me very quickly, that this pale sweating man, incoherent and rocking back and forth, was very unwell. He was literally collapsing - fortunately backwards and not into the glass counter. I ran to catch him. Dead weight he fell into my arms. Of course I couldn't hold him. He dropped to the floor and I momentarily thought, at least I broke his fall. There were only a few people sat in the cafe at this point to help, but on asking the watching few, I was astonished that no one moved. I find that sad. Yet still no one moved, and they all carried on as if nothing was going on.

Back to the important man in the room... he was out of it. His body wasn't though. Quite unconsciously it leapt to life. As he shook, I shifted things out of his way and waited. Like an earth tremor moving across the room, it finally departed, and he was still. He came round and wet himself in the process. He was mortified. I was not. He sat and had some sweet juice, and over the next half hour, ambulance declined, colour restored, he got up and left.

Twenty minutes on he returned, knocking on the now locked door. Floor mop in hand, I opened it again and asked if he was quite okay? He was. He was simply back to apologise and to thank me. I gave him a hug; wet trousers the lot.

I wonder how that man is now. How his epilepsy is, whether it is under control, whether he looks after himself, and, during the times that he quite literally falls ill, whether he has people around him to look after him too?

Around five people in every 100 will have an epileptic seizure at some time in their life. Out of these five people, around four will go on to develop epilepsy. For more information go to epilepsy.org.uk

This post was a follow on to my post on Juicing - An in-house experiment


Anonymous said...

Emma I love the way you write, this story has all the hallmarks of a stand up comedians joke with the impending punchline waiting to appear at the end, I for one wasn't expecting the serious ending - keep em coming take care x

Emma Oliver said...

Comments like this one are one of the reasons I enjoy writing... thanks so much. x