From Cafe Conversations by Peter John Cooper
The woman sitting at the table in the corner calls on her mobile
Hello.... Oh hello Andy. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday darling. You’re not in at home so I’ll try you at the office. Happy Birthday mwaa mwaa.
She drinks her coffee and tries the phone again
Hello. Hello. Oh yes, I wanted to speak to Andy Stapleton. He’s not at home and I can’t get him on his mobile so could you put me through to his office. No, I don’t know his direct number. That’s why I’m coming through the switchboard. Well, I haven’t got it. It’s Jane his wife, I’m away for a few days. I haven’t got my address book. You must be new. Yes, Jane.... No? Never mind, I’ll try again in a few minutes.
A few minutes pass. She tries again
Hello, yes, it’s Jane Stapleton. That’s right... Andy. Could you try him again for me. No? Well, would you give me his direct number then I won’t have to bother you again. No.... I’ve got his mobile. I’ve already left a message.... I know it’s not company policy to give out personal numbers. Of course I know his home number. I live there. I’m his wife. No, don’t get him to call me at home because I’m not there. If you remember, I said I’m on holiday. I just wanted to talk to him. It’s his birthday. Never mind. Just put me through to his office. It’s marketing somewhere. No? Not answering? I expect they’re in the morning meeting. They do drag on a bit. I’ll try again.
She drinks another cup of coffee
Hello? Jane Stapleton. Yes, Andy Stapleton’s office please. No? They’re usually finished by now. Do you know whether he’s still in the building? Yes, yes, I know. Well, do you know where he’s gone? I mean he’s not picking up his mobile... Well it is quite. Not earth shattering. No emergency. I just wanted to wish him Happy Birthday. Why? Because it’s his... So that he’ll know I’m thinking of him. He’ll think I’ve forgotten... No, I can’t. I’m on holiday. I’m away for a few days and I wanted to wish him happy Birthday. Look, I’ll try again in a few minutes. If you could find out where he is in the building.. Yes, I think you said he was still there.
Another cup of coffee
Hello? Andy. Oh Andy... I’ve been leaving messages all over. Happy... I’m sorry...yes, I know you don’t but I just wanted to say Happy Birthday darling... I mean it is your birthday... even the office... Yes, I know the pressure you’re under. I understand... I know. I just wanted you to know... Look, please don’t take it out on me... Please... Not now... You what? Pardon? I didn’t catch that.. You... I don’t understand... Andy... are you sure. I mean, but when? You can’t today.... Why not? It’s your birthday. When I get back... What do you mean you don’t .....? You can’t.... Nonsense. It’s my home as well. Not like this. Andy, not like this. It’s that new girl, isn’t it? You know the one I mean. The one on the switch board. All hoity toity and “it’s not company policy.” Andy, I know you wouldn’t, couldn’t, have thought of this on your own. She’s just after your money. She’s too young. Andy.... How dare you. How dare you. I’ve never... Of course, I’m losing my temper. I’m upset. I’m hurt. And I don’t care who hears. It doesn’t happen like this. Not after this time. I know it happens to other people but we aren’t other people. We’re... you and me. Andy and Jane. That’s who we are. How am I meant to tell people? People that I meet. My friends. How do I explain it?... On the phone... It’s not... It’s crazy... It doesn’t happen like this. Let’s sort this out properly. Wait till I’ve got home. I’ll come now. Straight away. We’ll talk about it. Properly. It doesn’t matter about the rest of... We’ll talk about it. We’ll sort it out. Andy, don’t you dare ring off...
But she has been talking to herself for some time
She turns to everyone else in the cafe who is now listening
I just wanted to say Happy Birthday.
She picks up her shoulder bag and goes out of the cafe. Her eyes are red and puffy.