On Sundays, I like to attend the Conversation Cafe.
It’s a concept, developed in the US, of sharing your opinions with others, based on a pre-chosen topic. There is a host and there are some rules, which mostly entail common sense and common courtesy.
The group is for English speakers, no matter what their level is, so it attracts many non-native English speakers who like to practice their English. Today, we had native German, Polish, and Spanish speakers. I was the only native English speaker.
I enjoy the international nature of the group and always find the topics thought-provoking.
After the meeting, I like to head down to a local bar where the proprietress makes delicious burgers and yummy fries, or chips as they’re called here. It’s the same bar where I dropped off my pants a couple of weeks ago.
It’s usually a very quiet bar, but tonight, when I walked in, it was festive with two tables filled with party-goers. I should have turned around and walked out then, but I didn’t realize at first that the whole place had been reserved for a private party.
I tried to leave, but instead, was ushered in because the party hostess was the lady from the dry cleaners next door. It was her mum’s 90th birthday. She insisted that I sit down and have some of their food. Though I protested, she wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.
On the bar, a huge buffet was set up with sandwiches, salad, ham, “Coronation Chicken,” Waldorf Salad, cole slaw, pork pies, pâté, and cake.
“Would you like some soup?” The bartender asked me. Next thing I knew, a bowl of homemade minestrone soup was sitting in front of me. I had a couple of half sandwiches and started on the soup.
“Will you have some Waldorf Salad?”
It seemed ungracious to turn things down. I sat at the bar as the bartender piled a plate with the salad, cole slaw, chicken, and pork pie.
I bought a glass of wine and ate my dinner, feeling awkward, as the family took selfies of themselves nearby.
When I finished, some of the family had already left, but others were still going strong. I quietly put on my coat, wondering how I could properly thank them for sharing with me.
The only thing I could think of was to sing Happy Birthday to the mum, even though they had already sung it earlier, before I’d arrived. I stood and sang it to her again, before slipping out into the Edinburgh night.
The accidental party crasher walked home in the rain.