Today’s Writing Prompt #017

Day 2 of my Finish-My-Course-One-Café-At-A-Time Writing Tour, and I travelled up to the Paragon Café in the main street of Katoomba. The restaurant itself is one hundred years old, and the function rooms at the back were built in the 1920s and 30s. Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Glenn Miller played to me while I frowned over my studies, and the faces of so many Hollywood celebrities looked down at me from their frames on the wall – actual visitors, don’t you know!   

With fabulous music playing, fantastic coffee on offer, and great service on hand, I decided to go check out the rooms in back after I’d finished. The décor is something else. I went to the [had to be original!] bathroom, and from there could go and check out the Blue Room and Another Room, which had to have been a poetry-recital room in its day – had to be. Imagine the days when you went out to hear poetry recited. ‘Scott, what do you want to do tonight?’ ‘Well, Bron, I hear that Davo is going to do Paradise Lost at the Paragon, let’s check it out.’

So it’s time to name-drop. As the waitress was explaining the history of the building, the rooms, and the signed photos around the place, she pointed out a picture of Andrew Denton: the Paragon, it turns out, was his first place of employment. He started there as a kitchen-hand! All of the people in the photographs have visited the Paragon (I saw Clark Gable’s photo on the way to the Blue Room, so – wow, they got big names in there), but the history of the owners sounds a story in itself. Check it out at Ok, ok – or you can jump to the prompt.

At the Milk Bar Café at Echo Point, things were a bit fresh. While the coffee wasn’t terrific, the service was, and I shrugged into my coat, took my coffee, and sat outside on the lower terrace enjoying the view. Ok, I was more freezing than enjoying anything. Ok, and the internet was intermittent, which meant I could do none of my course-reading. Ok, and the ammonia they used to clean all the garbage bins was kind of….strong. But! I was there. Said I would do it, and I did it. And it was good. Except for those things.

I thought about going back to the car, and getting on my way, except – can you believe it: $8.80 to park here!! For two hours!! I still had an hour and a half to go, so I wasn’t going to be getting much out of my ticket. I weighed it all up: I could either make the most out of my parking ticket, and hang around, or…..I could avoid getting pneumonia, reconnect somewhere else, get some more work done. Believe it or not, I’m actually not tight, and I’m feeling relaxed about the work. What I was really torn about was that I didn’t get to live out the little romantic idea I had of being there beside one of the natural wonders of the world, writing, creating a little part of my experience that I can include in my memoirs. Later. Much later. ‘How I wrote in every beautiful and original café/setting/location across NSW’, etc, etc, blah blah. You know. That sort of thing. At this moment of sighing, would you believe it, but Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah started playing in the background. Could I have found any more romance in this picture? Sigh. Except it might have been Jeff Buckley (it was). Right then someone started hosing off the top terrace, and the shower fell onto my table on the lower terrace. It brought a bit of a chill with it. I checked the weather, and yes, I thought so – it had dropped to 10 degrees. It was time to move.

Before I left, though, I had time to take a moment to enjoy the loads of different accents I heard around the Point. I guess it’s the place for it, and my face will probably appear in hundreds of photo-slideshows in and around Tokyo, Shanghai and various European family rooms in a couple of weeks. Good thing I was having a good hair day. There were also a lot of American accents around (‘Oh my gahd, I thahght Sydney was cohld, but it’s so much cohlderr herer.’ ‘No way,’ I wanted to say to the one in the singlet top, thinking about Scott wanting to turn on the heater while wearing shorts, a t-shirt and going barefoot when it’s 10 degrees outside.) Pretty sure they were Americans, anyway. No-one said ‘house’ or ‘mouse’, so I don’t know for sure. I ended up hearing some Canadian voices, and can you believe it – they didn’t want to sit outside!! Well – she didn’t. Too cold for a Canadian, what!! They had the right idea, though – a bottle of crisp white and a view over the Megalong Valley. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

I had joked that visiting Katoomba would get me to the other side of the back-burning, or at least above it, but guess what. Yes, that’s right, back-burning, here in this valley below me. Check out the pictures. But you’re probably thinking ‘Enough with the pictures!’ and you’re right. It’s time for your prompt.

Writing prompt #017

She studied her face in the mirror. Her hair fell in shining curls around her ears. Her makeup, meticulously applied, looked perfect. The earrings sparkled from her lobes. She turned her head, this way and that, making a final, critical assessment. She stood back, satisfied. No-one would be able to tell the difference.


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