Chips With Lavender

by Cathy Draven

The Beatles were 'in'. Every lunch time their songs rang out from the shining, silver jukebox and carried as far as the odour of the cafe's chips and lavender. We sat in the corner leaning on formica topped tables, our drab, grey uniform disguised under macs topped with vivid, multicoloured scarves. The latter were artfully draped to be the first thing anyone noticed, thus hiding our schoolgirl identity.

The windows of the cafe were carefully guarded by rolls of frilled net curtains and garish plastic flowers, but the appetising odour of fish and chipe travelled streets away as the fan blasted out the warm air from the kitchen. Strangely the odour of lavender seemed to hang a few feet from the ground outside the window as if the purple block air freshners were heavily laden so their scent couldn't rise to its correct level. I am sure the many wandering dogs from the rows of terraced houses nearby, appreciated the odour more than we did.

At the time the small cafe seemed a mecca of music and escape from school with the added frisson of the danger of discovery as two of the group smoked forboidden cigarettes. The coils of smoke, only one girl had learned to inhale, mingled with the lavender inside the cafe as there at least, it rose to the ceiling.

We conversed hungrily, inhaling the odours and watching the blues and violets of the air against the cream ceiling, until the chips arrived with the unforgettable clang of thick pottery on thin tables. We ate, we listened, accepted the perfumes and we remembered.

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