Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Close up at Café Lento

Sally Bavage writes:
The second event of the fourth Headingley Litfest – A Sense of Self - was held at Café Lento on North Lane.  A well-mixed crowd ranging in age from the teens to the seventies were treated to half a dozen tales.  True or false: you decide.  Autobiography or whimsy? Lost youth - in the tale from one ex-social worker - or lost youth from presenters remembering their glory days?

Café Lento was packed with close to 30 local residents happy to listen to the background jazz (a foretaste of the Music Festival in Headingley from 13 to 19 June this year) and drink in the stories as well as the coffee.  A warm atmosphere as old friends greeted each other and new ones struck up conversations with their neighbours who were, well, close up.

Was a Facebook search for a first, lost love the reminiscences of a man reflecting on the path his romantic life had taken, or the story woven by a talented raconteur and wordsmith?  (Proprietor Richard Lindley)

Did the Revolution (of about  three decades ago) come to a small Pennine town, welcomed in by flyposters who ‘drove their chevy to the levee’ (actually a Morris Minor with a faulty tail light) on the way to the local factory?  (Moira Garland)

Was Pete Townsend really second choice for The Who, supplanting the first choice from the Isle of Man whose drummer friend told the tale?  And what a tale – of stagefright, flying drumsticks and a brief stage appearance with the renowned bandleader Ivy Benson.  (Doug Sandle)

Not a daffodil but a bog asphodel made an appearance, giving us commentary on the booted walkers passing by.  (Mary Mayall)

No boots on the next walkers, just trainers needing repair and a cuppa in a twee teashop on Haworth Main Street as cold rain sheeted down and the lives of the Brontës in the Parsonage Museum prompted debate.  (Lis Bertolla)

Finally, a tale of evacuation – no, not from a war but from a horse called Oliver on a mission to contribute something less than mysterious - and steaming - to a Leeds city centre reading of the banns announcing a production of the Chester Mystery Plays. (Richard Wilcocks)

A mixed bag indeed, and gently enjoyable for the range and scope of the stories.  How much was invention, how much recollection – will we ever know?

Oscar Wilde adds:
A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction. 

Below, Doug Sandle reads:

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