I can take a hint

William Essex


Young child wearing a soft light-blue dinosaur fancy-dress outfit. In a garden, among bushes, might have popped up after hiding.
Showing how it’s done. Photo by Jeremy McKnight on Unsplash

So I’ve got this friend. He’s about my age (plus), an artist, once a teacher, and he’s turned up for coffee today wearing a three-piece suit, dress shirt, matching cravatte and pocket square. Brogues. A wide-brimmed felt hat. Black long coat. Silk scarf.

“Have you seen William’s latest?” he says across the table to my other friend, also an artist, not once a teacher, who’s turned up for coffee today wearing a bright-scarlet wide-leg jumpsuit, an on-the-shoulder (but no further) little black jacket and a big, chunky necklace. Big coat.

“No, I haven’t,” she says. “Yet,” she thinks to add.

We’re in a sit-down cafe, the Olive Grove, where the coffee is ordered at the table and brought to the table. It’s a breakfast, brunch, lunch place really, and to judge from the other tables, the cakes are also popular. And the slices are big. Next time, I might — never mind. We’re here for the coffee.

Coffee and the conversation

We meet here roughly once a month and talk about — oh, what don’t we talk about? — times past, times present, art and exhibitions, what’s on at The Poly, the rain getting in, gender issues, health, family, culture, bicycles, absent friends, where we’re going to meet next time (usually here, but sometimes at The Pavilion) and what we might do next time.

We talk about everything. The “what we might do next time” bit is a new thing — and I should have mentioned it earlier, sorry. The new thing is — last time we agreed that this time we’d dress up a bit. So we did.

For no particular reason except that the conversation went that way and it was kind of a funny idea at the time. Then one of us kind of mentioned it again in passing, on WhatsApp, and kind of — yeah, let’s do that, and kind of — yeah, we did it. So here we are.

Writing to the challenge

The coffee is delivered to the table. Not a flicker of reaction to our outfits. Nope! Not even to my — you’d think people turned up dressed like this every day.

I take off my hat and when I turn back from finding somewhere to put it — in a pile with my other accessories on a chair at the next (empty) table, just for now — my friends are talking about my writing.

“He’s written about you.”

“Has he?”

“He doesn’t say it’s you, but I recognise you. He hasn’t written about me. Yet,” he thinks to add.

I can take a hint — or maybe it’s a challenge. A creative-writing story prompt, perhaps. And it kind of sticks in my mind…

Killing off the characters

D. and I once attempted to write a thriller together, fiction obviously (although life has its moments), but we decided after, oh, about the third assassination by one of us of the other’s newly introduced and obviously intended-to-be-major character, that we weren’t compatible as thriller writers.

My gratuitous sex scene between two characters who hardly knew each other probably didn’t help, either. But D. was questioning everything by then, anyway.

So we’ve moved on to a monthly costume drama, with J., at the Olive Grove or possibly The Pavilion — or we might go really wild next time and try somewhere else for a change.

But where? And when? And above all — wearing what?

Gosh! I’ve written a cliffhanger ending.

Maybe I am a thriller writer after all. Not. I remember Gary Larson’s famous cartoon. I’m not one of those, either.

If you too would like an opportunity to dress up and discuss my writing, here’s a whole collection of it. Free on KDP.



William Essex

Former everything. I still write books, I still write stories. Author of The Book of Fake Futures, The Journey from Heaven, Escape Mutation.