Saturday, May 15, 2004


Today was one of those uneventful Saturdays when you just catch up with all the little jobs you’ve been putting off; tidying the house, picking up a parcel, mowing the lawn, sending some emails and popping to the shops.

Having survived the ordeal of our local shops on a Saturday (screaming children everywhere!), I call in to Misty’s Vegetarian Café for a mango smoothie before heading home.

Misty’s plays a strange role in our neighbourhood. The walls and shelves are covered with posters and leaflets from all manner of local groups and events; environmental activists, women’s samba dance classes, a night of kinetic poetry, the co-operative society, the Victorian Bath’s restoration project, Manchester Against Racism and more. The clientele are not the normal mix you might expect to find in a café either, all sorts stop by and are welcomed.

Over the years one of the café’s many roles in the community has become the provision of a sort of safe space/informal drop-in for people with mental health issues. At Misty’s no one frowns at them disapprovingly or asks them to leave.

As I sip my smoothie and resist the rather delicious looking carrot and walnut cake that tempts me from the counter, a guy called Ken wanders in clearly already well lubricated and hurls random abuse at an acquaintance already sat in the café. What appears to be a familiar and regular play is then enacted by Ken and the café’s proprietor. Each party knows their role and cues.

“Ken, how many time to I have to ask you not to shout in here?”

Ken mumbles what appears to be an apology of sorts and sits down. “Can you do us a pork steak?” he enquires grumpily.

The proprietor (of Misty’s Vegetarian Café) and I catch each other’s eyes and share a smile. “Ken, how many times to I have to tell you we don’t do pork…or liver…or chicken…or”

Ken interrupts “I said a f***ing poached egg!”

“Sorry Ken, I must have misheard you. Now stop swearing and I’ll bring it across to you.”

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