The week before last, an older gentleman walked past the cafe as we were packing up. He made a joke about what we had been doing at the Hub, and when I said it was a community cafe and invited him to join us, I am glad to report that he did this week.
Bill has been living in the area for over forty years, with his wife who he is clearly devoted to. He mentioned sons who were local but he was not close to, so on the whole, it’s just him and his wife. She works nights in a hospital so he looks after her and the house during the day. While she sleeps, he runs his errands, including visiting a number of charity shops in the nearby neighbourhoods looking to buy specific novels his wife wants to read. He carries the list with him, crossing the books off when he finds them.
He entertained us with his one liners (‘my wife and I are in the iron and steel business; she irons while I steal’), memories of Leeds, and insights into his life (‘I never had time to grieve our baby daughter’s death because I was looking after my wife. But how can you ever get over something like that?’). Those of us in the cafe that morning felt immensely warmed by his presence, and proud of the role of ToastLoveCoffee in creating a local community space.
On Tuesday it’s Bill’s seventieth birthday. We thought we would have a little impromptu party for him in the cafe on Wednesday. We can provide the cake (of course!), candles and balloons. Will you join us and wish him well too? You’ll be very very welcome. And perhaps if you have any of the books on his list for his wife, that would be a gift they would both treasure…