“Open the bloody door, open it!” said a skinhead, his DMs attempting to open the door by force. Kick, kick, kick, the noise of kicking was punctuated by the air-brakes on a bus, chuff, chuff, chuffing as the driver negotiated the tricky junction opposite.
[remember Pt 2 of the Sturgess Café story? On day 6, the bus passenger saw a shaven headed man kicking the door of the café. Here’s what happened…]
“My God!” said Nyman [Remember? He’s the ‘artist’ café owner], “he’ll have the thing down in no time. Nyman was hiding behind the one-way glass in the kitchen door.
“What do you expect, people are getting pissed about the café not being open,” said Seeke [his partner] demolishing a cheese burger between sentences, “Rachel’s was a great little café. It was doing a bomb, according to the books. I don’t think they would have sold up if Rachel hadn’t been bitten by that rabid dog in Brazil.
“How is she?” said Nyman. He didn’t really care, he was just saying anything to keep his nerves under control.
“I told you weeks ago, just after you put an offer in for this place. She’s emigrated to Melbourne. Got the money from an insurance claim, the dog owner just happened to be an airline’s security company.”
“Oi! Oi!” shouted the skinhead, “I’ll be back!” He pointed his finger in Nyman’s direction and then made a single finger salute. That gesture, combined with the almost comical sneer on the skinhead’s face, made Nyman think of a Skrewdriver album cover that the racist friend of a friend (who’d been busted out of the army on medical grounds – he may appear in a later instalment of this story) had shown him once, along with a collection of self-drawn charcoal sketches of Nazi soldiers.
“It doesn’t help your popularity keeping old ladies standing in the cold, while you stuff your face and laugh back here [reference to Pt 2 again]” said Seeke.
“You’re the one who doesn’t get it,” said Nyman, turning towards Seeke and flicking the kettle on, he was relieved that the nutter had at least left, “this is a major piece of art. The ‘Art Mag’ said so.”
“That ‘Art Mag’ journo had the hots for you!” said Seeke.
At the official launch of ‘The Café Project” - done in secret at Laughton’s Bar, a posh place on the other side of town - a flirtatious blonde-haired reporter from the Art Mag latched onto Nyman; partly because he had in his possession some pure-ish coke and she couldn’t resist a sniff or two (Which turned Nyman on all the more). It wasn’t likely that she’d be giving The Café Project a bad press anytime soon. Besides, Nyman had used a wodge of his Arts Council grant on lubricating the ensemble in Laughton’s. “Job’s a good ‘un!” he thought, before passing out on the toilet, beneath the writhing reporter. She didn’t notice, and, more importantly, neither did Seeke.
“A truly inclusive, original concept,” and “a response to the decline in interest in the moder High Street,” pretty much summed up the response in the cultural pages of the press to ‘The Café Project’.
“I mean, the High Street’s so compromised right now,” said Gray Wipper, arts correspondent of the Daily Liberated, “that’s what makes Nyman’s pro-ject sooo relevant. Irresistible!”
The Arts Council’s assessment: “What Nyman’s doing with the Sturgess Cafe is what we’ve needed for so long. A way of assisting local people with the re-evaluation of their locality and community through the medium of conceptual art. It’s a frank discussion of our future cultural life.”
Frank and his wife [she’s the bus passenger] had other things to discuss, beginning with: what would happen to the neighbourhood now these ‘unemployed’ people were moving in.
“It’s like that café,” said Frank, rubbing his bald head with rough hands, he’d spent his working life shifting blocks of concrete, “like a bloody squat. When’s that place bloody opening? Eh?”
“I rather like the orange chairs that they’ve installed,” said his wife, “reminds me of the seaside, like that little caff in Redcar.”
“They’ve never done a day’s work,” said Renee, who’d popped round for a tea. She was off sick from the library.
“Dunno why they don’t send ‘em somewhere.” Said Frank.
“But where?” said his wife.
“I dunno love. The army? Siberia? French Foreign Legion,” said Frank, “fancy going down the Chinky?”