Tuesday, 10 May 2016

A cafe in Vienna.

It was an old café with polished tables and high-back, leather chairs. It was an old part of town. The customers were old too, not necessarily in years, but in taste and status. They took breakfast in this particular café perhaps because of its air of endurance, and there they checked the state of the markets from the privacy afforded by the broadsheet newspapers that they held in front of their faces. The rustling of newspapers was the only music to be heard and it wasn’t intended to create an atmosphere that was either convivial or relaxed.

I walked into that cafe early on a morning in December many years ago. The pavements along the narrow street were backed up with the snow that had fallen during the previous night, with little paths cleared from the front door of each building out to the road. I had just arrived in the city on the first train from Budapest. My heavy, black travelling coat was all filled up with the memories of trains and European cities, reeking of cigarette smoke and alcohol and dozens of cheap hotels. I was probably also carrying with me a strong whiff of loneliness, though in those days I didn’t know that was the name for the dull ache that I woke up with most mornings.

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