Under the tree at Spar

‘Brown roll please.’ I grunted.

‘Mmmmm, fffff, yyyyyy, gggggg.’ whispered the woman behind the deli counter.

‘Sorry could you repeat that please?’

‘Hhhhhhh, ddddd, jjjjj, wwwww.’

‘I’m sorry I have no idea what you are saying, can you please speak up? I cannot hear you?’

‘Butter or mayo’ she mumbled clearly making a huge effort to be heard.

‘Butter’ I whispered back. Does that happen to anyone else? If someone whispers to you, you automatically respond in a similar manner.

‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you’ she muttered, with a sneer on her face, clearly satisfied with herself.

‘BUTTER’ I accidentally bellowed.

She flinched. This is clearly a person who enjoys the silence.

Eventually through all the jigs and the reels I managed to get my spicy chicken fillet roll. It’s Thursday – I had my acting workshop tonight, so no healthy, wholesome, home-cooked nourishment this evening. I decided get some sustenance in the Spar near the performance space, before arriving.

I sat and ate the sandwich, with a grey cup of tea. Not Earl Grey tea. Or a grey cup.  No, I mean a murky, grey-hued tepid beverage of horror.

Insomnia is the coffee shop inside the Spar . The emphasis being on coffee. Their tea game is appalling. They use individual tea bags and it’s up to the customer to decide on how strong to make the mug of brew. As it should be. However they have one of those suspicious teabags with a string coming out of it, to allow you to dunk. A European Union style tea bag as it were. We in Ireland don’t appreciate such fripperies on our tea bags.

A tea bag needs to be unadorned, and a gush of rich, chocolate brown needs to spread forth  throughout the boiling water as you press the bag against the side of the mug with a metal teaspoon. Before you lift the sodden bag from the cup, with the spoon and chucking it in the bin, and adding milk as per your preference. If you do not take milk in your tea, then clearly you are a morally dubious person.  A disposable wooden stirrer, on a teabag with a handle in a Styrofoam cup the size of a bucket will simply not do. It had to be a teaspoon. It has to be metal. This is non-negotiable if you are trying to convince someone of your moral worth.

Beggars cannot be choosers however. Seeing as Insomnia is an Irish chain of coffee shops, you’d think they’d up their tea game. This nation was built on the rivalry between Barry’s Gold Blend and Lyon’s Natural Blend.

I finished the roll and did something I very rarely do. And it pains me to admit, this but I threw half the cup of tea away.

I approached the counter and selected a packet of Smoky Bacon crisps. I placed them on the counter. The Brazilian lady at the till ignored me. She was pre-occupied. I cleared my throat. Still no reaction.

She was staring intently at the door, with her mouth open, as if in a stupor.

She looked at her colleague. She pointed at the door. Her face broke into a huge smile.

‘It’s snowing’ she shouted, a huge beam on her face.  ‘I’ve never seen snow in real life before.’


She turned to her colleague, pointed in my direction and instructed ‘Look after him’.

She ran outdoors and started circling, with her arms raised, staring at the sky. She looked so happy.

‘Is she completely insane?’ I thought to myself.

‘I’m getting my phone’ she shouted while running back indoors. ‘I want to send a picture to my mother.’

I was less impressed with the snow. It was the wet, sludgy kind that seems to soak into your bones.

Her enthusiasm was rather infectious though. Who could ever have imagined it. Finding magic in a January sleet shower.

People are strange. When you’re a stranger.






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