Today I did speak to Lorenzo, the owner of The New Piccadilly Cafe. The Cafe, my Cafe.
I paid my Minestrone soup, and asked him the question that had been bugging me since the last time I was there.
“Is it true that this Cafe is going to close?”
“Oh yes” he said “They are going to rebuild this whole block, and the Cafe is going down with it”.
Oh no, this was not what I wanted to hear, at all.
“The people with the money have the power, so we are all moving to the Bahamas and retire”. At least he could joke about it.
“That is such sad news! I love this Cafe and (and this was the time to bring it up) the film.”
“What film is that ?” he said.
(There are several films shot in this cafe, the next one comes to your cinema in December, is called The Good Night and is starring Gwenneth Paltrow).
“The Girl In The Cafe.”
“Ahh, Bill Nighy.”
“Yes Bill Nighy indeed. He is such a great actor and it is such a wonderful film. The film is very close to my heart, and so is this Cafe”.
“Thank you dear. Did you know that that film was shot at the exact table you were sitting at?”
“I know” I felt a bit pathetic, but he wasn’t laughing at me, I think he realized that I was a serious fan of both his Cafe and the film.
“So when is it going to happen ?” I asked.
“About 6-9 months, a year at most.”
I felt very sad hearing all this.
“Have you ever seen this film?” I asked him.
“No! I haven’t got the time yet. You know I leave home at 7.30am to get to this Cafe, we close at 8.30pm, I go home after that and then I am tired.”
“You have to see it one day, really. Do you have the DVD ?” If not I would have bought him a copy.
“Yes, and thank you for thinking about me that way. But yes, some customers gave it to me.
You know, if you take your copy with you next time, I can sign it if you like. I’m not Bill Nighy, but I can write “With regards from the New Piccadilly Cafe”.
I just checked if he was pulling my leg, but he didn’t – he had a genuine smile.
“Great idea! I would love that, I’ll bring it around next time.”
I put my change back in my wallet. Put on my backpack, I had to go.
“I guess there really isn’t anything we can do to keep this Cafe open ?”
“No not really, the people with the money can’t see what they are doing to this neighbourhood”.
“Are you sad about it ?”
“Neah, I am fed up with it. I have been running this Cafe all my life. I am always working. I would love to go to the theatre, or the cinema, but there is no time for it. This Cafe – it has been my life.”
“I understand, but it is sad to hear this”.
“What are you going to do tonight?” he suddenly asks me.
“Uhm, I’m going to the theatre actually”
“There you go, see what I mean?
Anything interesting you are going to see?”
I did see what he meant, and I can understand him, but it doesn’t make things better.
“A new play from a first time play wright, it’s called “On the Third Day”, in the New Ambassadors”
“Well enjoy it. And we hope to see you here again, before we close”.
“I’ll be back soon. Take care now and enjoy your weekend.”
Which felt like a weird thing to say as he probably had to work all weekend.
Normally I step out of that particular door being recharged, full of energy and inspiration. This time I could nearly cry. London will lose a part of its soul when The New Piccadilly Cafe closes.
And so will I.
7 thoughts to “A talk with Lorenzo”
:-( Hopefully TV-2 are paying a visit to the city before The Caf? is closed for good (they are my “excuse” for going to London). I’d love to have a nice cup of tea there…
I think I’ll pay London a visit within the next 6-9 months.
Same! It’s a lovely place and, in a way, it lives beautifully right here. The photo you’ve chosen for this post, the wonderfully solid, gleaming cup on your header — all of them make the cafe so alive. I wonder if maybe you could do more of that, more regularly. And then, if it does close its doors, at least there will be your lovely record of it to inspire and console. Also, I think you should write to Bill Nighy and tell him this news. Maybe he can do something. I don’t think there’s an actor alive who could resist an appeal like that from a person like you! (Or, if that doesn’t work, send the pirate.) Best, Lily
I hope they’ll at least give the new, doubtlessly characterless and bland building a blue plaque. That would seem fitting. You can suggest one at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.1499
@Dorte – Robtheblob – good idea :-)
Their tea is not bad, seeing as how they are Italian
@BL – I promise to come up with more pictures of the Cafe along the way. (The coffeecup in the header is not my own picture though, but I like it a lot too). The problem is that the building in which The Cafe resides is not owned by the owner of The Cafe. And apart from that I have the impression he has given up fighting, and is looking forward to his retirement. If not I would have come up with an action plan already. But there still is time, and, well miracles do happen sometimes, so let’s see. (We have indeed the pirate, as a last way of settling things…)
@Edwinek – that is a great idea. But as far as I understand those blue plaques only get rewarded to places where famous people have lived (that could classify the Cafe though), and apart from that, they have to be dead for 20 years first. :(
I am sorry to hear that the cafe is closing, but this is life. If everything stayed as we wanted it to you would still be in Denmark writing your verses about another life. I have visited places from my childhood that are vivid in my memory, only to find they have changed. Change is good, it gives us the opportunity to be born again and discover new worlds.
There will be other cafes (and dare I say it), other Bill Nighys, what maters is that the dreams remain alive.
Good luck Ingrid
@Laurie – I know that this is life, but that doesn’t mean one can’t be sad about things like this happening. Of course there will be another cafe, or not, let’s see what comes on my path.
I am not too sure about your Bill Nighy remark though, he hasn’t really anything to do with the closure of the cafe (apart from that he was in the film, but that’s a complete different story – but there is only one of those around, luckily) !