Title: Quebec

Author: Bill Manhire

In: Sport 34: Winter 2006

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2006

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

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Sport 34: Winter 2006



The café was called Quebec. We used to go there a lot.

The first time, well, we simply liked the name. They had nothing local, but you could ask for anything else.

In winter they served up hot, brutal stews, which we ate like soup, using a spoon, and there were rough slabs of some home-made nutty bread. It was all new to us. In summer, the desserts were airy, filled with berry fruit, or made with lemon.

Before it was Quebec, it was Kerouac's. Before that, I think it was Fettucine, and before that it was a bookshop, Tom's Exchange. The man who ran it wore a grey dustcoat; he wasn't Tom. Tom was never there.

This was years before we met. As I recall, the days were long and awkward. You could take in a few coins and a couple of old paperbacks, and come back out with something you hoped might change your life.