It’s fair to say that in her youth Eleanor had been used to better things than a small, cheerful but very basic cafe in a run down seaside town, even though Filey had something of the faded, fragile beauty that she possessed herself. Perhaps that was why she felt at home here. Like her the place had once been well to do, fashionable and stylish, a place sought out by the rich and famous. Now both she and her setting had seen better days but still managed to keep their pride and honour their memories in spite of everything. Eleanor had lived all over the world, as she explained calmly and politely to the two over enthusiastic and rather clueless members of the public who thought that she was like them. She had sung at Covent Garden, and graced more musical shows than she could ever remember, walking out into the spotlight from a hundred dark and dusty wings to deliver her perfect colaratura soprano voice. The shows had all merged into one in her mind now, but one thing had always remained the same- the low buzz of conversation behind a heavy curtain and the sharp smell of excitement before the lights went down. Frisson. One of her favourite words.These people meant well, but they had never felt that, they had no idea. Could they not see her beret, worn, even inside the cafe, at just the right angle over long, perfectly blonde, straight hair? The cheekbones? The fine leather shoes? Of course the shoes had been resoled but then they had lost “everything, darling, everything” when their business folded. Everything but their self respect of course.
You couldn’t mistake Eleanor’s presence, even now. She still had the light of a born performer in her eyes. Without being the least bit overstated she still believed that she was somebody and she was right. However small her world had become she was still engaged with it, seeking out new things and examining what she found. She was curious, she still wanted to know, even when what she found out disappointed her. One shook one’s head slightly and moved on. There was always the next time. Over the years she had become used to failure and success and she had found that they sometimes followed on from each other surprisingly quickly, tripping each other up in their eagerness to build a life. So much music, so many shows. Her favourite opera had been Turandot. Such drama. Such bravura. Such romance. She told them how she had sung all along this coast- sung everywhere in fact. They were closing the places she had performed now- a dreadful pity- those times would never come back. That big theatre down the road in Scarborough. She had sung there. They were going to pull it down soon. So ironic that it was called the Futurist. When she had lived in Stratford Upon Avon she had produced big charity concerts at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the actors had come in and eaten all the food that she had put on for the guests! I mean, my dear! Her eyes widened at the audacity of it, even after so many years. Shocking! Good behaviour was important, no matter where you found yourself. Even if you found yourself living in Hornsea, where there was absolutely nothing to do, nothing, you kept your chin up. You found your light.
The coffee mugs were empty and it was time to go. One should always leave them wanting more. The exit was a good one, slow and graceful with a straight back and head held high. There should have been a round of applause.