Friday, 31 May 2019

Replacing The Cream - A Short Story

Replacing the cream.  

It’s 1:30 am and the last of the coffee bar stragglers have left the building. Re-purposing the cream cakes for the next day by scooping out the old cream and piping in some new is a nightly chore.

There’s usually a spatula for this purpose but it is in the vibrating commercial dishwasher out back so a surreptitious finger will have to do.

Not that there’s anything really wrong about this practice; after all what the customers don’t know don’t hurt them.

The folk singer was terrible tonight.  Not sure where the boss finds them, but they are mixed bunch, all singing Bob Dylan with a nasal pitch, or croaking plaintive Irish Republican songs whose lyrics they don’t really understand.

The coffee bar is on the corner of The Square, the city’s main and only redeeming feature.  This cafe plays second fiddle to a much larger coffee bar several blocks away that is the habitat of Teacher College students.

Hang on a minute, this cream looks a little rancid?  Or is it just yellowing with age?  Time for a quick taste test.   No, it seems OK although the cream pressure gun could probably do with a good clean.

Don’t have time to do it right now as there are other things to tick off before final lock-up.

A quick check of the pie warmer.  There’s a steak and mince that has seen better days.  The crust is as hard Palmy’s railroad tracks, but the boss says its OK if I take the old ones for my own consumption.
There’s also steak and kidney although you’d need a microscope to spot any kidney in the filling.

Think I’ll take a couple and throw them through the windows of the women student’s hall down the road.  They always appreciate a bit of sustenance even if it is an ungodly hour of the morning.  Bit of gravel thrown on a lower window usually gets a result although you need to keep an eye out for matron or passing police patrols who might misconstrue the intention.

Ah... the float.  How I HATE doing the float!

Maths was never my strong point and its even worse now that the cheap calculator’s battery has died.  Why is it that I am always 20 cents out in the tally?  I’m not going to mess around at this time of morning.  I’ll put in the money from my own pocket to get the balance.

It is now 2am and I have a lecture at 8:30 this morning. Check and turn off the electrical appliances. Ready the alarm.

Maybe I’ll take pity on customers and take that lamington with me to much as I head home.

After all I’ve just filled it with fresh cream.

Roger Smith
May, 2109

Four Winds Coffee Bar

Friday, 10 May 2019

Papa Cliffs And Feral Goats - Memories Of Whangamomona

Artist: Roger Smith, 2019.
Prints available here.
In my fourth form at boarding school I spent a short term holiday with a school friend, on his family farm in Whangamomona.

Whangamomona is in upland Taranaki, inland from the town of Stratford.  It is tough, unforgiving country with steep papa clay bluffs that are prone to slips.  Farming such country is a challenge and using horses in the back country in those days were a necessity.

My friend Cliff saddled me up a horse and we went riding to the back of the farm with mobs of feral goats scattering ahead of us.  They were, and remain, a serious pest.

I recall two other abiding memories from that time:  the bone-chilling cold of a winter's morning with heavy dew hanging off the wire fences, and the local country dance which took place in the Whangamomona hall.  The dance band consisted of a guitarist/vocalist,  a Hawaiian (slide) guitar player and a drummer.  They haled from Stratford and had travelled inland for the evening's event.

Lots of brown beer bottles were in evidence as were the rows of gumboots left at the hall door.  The supper was stupendous!

They were happier, community times and a life that is fast disappearing from the provinces.  Whangamomona faded fast but was reborn as a 'Republic' a few years ago and now has a thriving backpacker clientele.

My school mate Cliff went on to become New Zealand's Mastermind, a commercial pilot and a radio DJ in Whakatane.

The hospitality of his parents and the care-free times we had in the early Sixties remain pleasant memories.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

I woke this is morning weeping

I woke this is morning weeping.

I can't recall this expression of sadness ever affecting me as an adult.

I wept for the loss of life in the Christchurch massacre.

I wept for the loss of innocence in our society, for the families that are literally shell-shocked by the massacre of innocents at the two mosques.

That this racist attack happened in a  city that was for me, a remembrance of  idyllic childhood visits to grandparents, is almost beyond comprehension.

A city that has had to bear so much in the last decade with two major earthquakes this morning faces the horrific reality of what happened yesterday afternoon.

New Zealand will never be the same -  it is no longer the country of safe haven that we prided ourselves on.

But as a  nation we will not be cowed by these random acts of violence against our citizens.

This morning I weep for the families that have been decimated at their place of worship.

You are not alone.

We are with you.