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Cartoon, IchthusFish

Coffee-Shop Ladies

Title: Coffee-Shop Ladies
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Any similarities to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Notes: Written for Saturday Scribes. Theme - Communication. Prompts - Blueprint, Denim, Universal.

It happens every Friday. Mostly just the same as the previous Friday, but sometimes with variations on a theme.

Esme arrives first, arranging four chairs around the table in optimum positions, then sitting tapping her foot and checking her watch until the others arrive.

Trina arrives next, leaving her husband and the shopping at the door, and shooing him away with a continental style kiss to the cheek.  She bounces into the shop, 6-inch heals clacking her arrival, and greats Esme in a similar fashion.

Dinah arrives soon after, a slightly harassed look on her face, and hauling an eco-friendly bag that seems to be loaded with more shopping than it was ever designed to take.  She apologises for being late, just in case, even though she's actually early if the clock on the wall is anything to go by.

Lydia arrives late, as usual, and gives them a twirl, showing off her latest purchase of the season's "must-have" denims, or whichever item of clothing its impossible for the fashion concious girl to even consider living without this week.

The first priority of all concerned is the equip themselves with generously sized cups of coffee.

A careful sip of the hot liquid later, and Esme gets the conversation flowing with the good news that the council has declined the plans of Mr Bird from number 47 to install a solar panel and wind turbine at his property, following the objection of virtually every one of his neighbours.  In fact, after she'd put so much effort into showing them copies of the blueprints, and stressing the potential effects to anyone living in the vicinity, not to mention house prices, only the students at number 33, and the "save the Earth" supporters from number 48 had failed to do the right thing and raise objections.  She stresses that the occupants of numbers 33, 47 and 48 will not be on her Christmas card list this year.

Esme's news reminds Trina of the terrible news she heard during the week, that the council was considering situating a wind farm within sight of her bedroom window.  Not that she objects to such things in principle of course.  But when it impacts on the value of her quite expensive property, and the view they paid so much for, well, such things are just not to be tolerated.

Lydia suggests that maybe they could situate the wind farm near the run down estate on the other side of town, as it wouldn't impact on the value of their property's so much.  Esme and Trina give this idea much approval, but Dinah can't suppress a scowl at their lack of respect, once again, for the area she grew up in.

Feeling the need to turn the direction of the conversation, Lydia explains why she only ever uses one particular high street store now, because they explicitly state in their company policy that they never, ever use child labour or anything unfair like that.

Dinah knows for a fact that they use sweatshops, because her cousin Susan knows a girl called Esther who saw it in a documentary on cable last year.  She doesn't say anything to Lydia though, or they'll be talking about ethically made clothing all day, and she doesn't think she can handle that.  She buys herself another certified organic, fairly traded, ecologically decaffeinated latte with locally sourced half-fat milk, and it makes her feel better.

Lydia plays with her spoon in her empty cup until Esme offers to buy her another cup of coffee.  Lydia accepts with embarrassed grace, and complains that her wages are simply not enough to live on.  The others nod sympathetically, whilst browsing the display of luxury cakes.  Such weighty issues always give them an appetite.

Once suitably fortified with an army of calories, they wade in to the universal concerns of war and famine.  Deeply concerned about the state of world, and expressing quite seriously that someone really ought to do something about it.

Two hours after they first arrived, the ladies depart, satisfied they've put the world to rights, and ready to tackle the week ahead before they do the whole thing again next Friday.

Lydia buys a few treat items, and asks for a carrier bag for her purchases.  She would recycle, but crumpled carrier bags are just so uncool, and she has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Dinah picks up her environmentally friendly, reusable Hessian bag, chocked full to almost bursting with fairly traded products that hide the bargain buys and 2-for-1 offers nestled underneath, and heads back to her family 4 x 4 to pick up the kids from school.

Esme and Trina continue their conversation in the street, edging further and further away from the door over some considerable length of time.  They have been known, in cases of rain, to come back inside for another coffee.  Just until the rain stops of course.

The coffee-shop owner shakes his head, clearing the cups and plates and wiping down the table with a chuckle at the familiarity of it all, whilst wondering the same thing he wonders every week -

Everybody talks, but what would the world be like if somebody actually listened



Oh, I have so totally sat right next to those women, on so many occasions! The hypocrisy of it all often makes me contemplate acts of mild physical violence...but of course that wouldn't be very socially responsible. ;-) I love the bit about all the fair trade stuff on top hiding the bargain buys underneath. In fact, I am sure many of these women shop at our health food store. Ah well... at least you can get FTO foods at the supermarket now, and they're at least starting to add alternative power sources to many city grids... I s'pose one could say some parts of the world are starting to move in the right direction.


Oops, sorry - didn't mean to post anonymously. That was me, fishcat/desert rat. If you want, you can nuke this comment and just add my name to the bottom of the last one.


I really enjoyed reading this. I love the hypocrisy in these women.

A. Fulkerson


Hi, it's SK :D

This scene is remarkably familiar in the fact that everyone's been sat next to someone having that exact same coffee-shop meeting, or has been involved in one themselves.

And your ending note is very powerful, for it's simple truth. Action speaks louder than words, and yet all we do is sit her and grumble and complain. I have a lot of respect for those who actually go out there and try to change the world for the better.

A great piece of work IF! :D

coffee shop tale

Great little tale. We're all hypocrits - to a degree- like these women. I like the details about the bags, the purchases etc.


There is not much a 100 megaton nuke wont' cure . . .

. . . of course, that is even more cynical than your piece.

Mr. Darcy.