the girl on the (new piccadilly) cafe

New Piccadilly Cafe
New Piccadilly Cafe, London

I like this picture so much, I just use it again.

So I did the interview today. I can’t even remember what I said, it might have been utter rubbish. I do recall mentioning Bill Nighy and the movie. I think I also said that it was the first place I felt at home in London. That I always order soup and a coke there, or that I don’t actually have to order it because they just know. That I have enjoyed time there waiting for a film or a theatre play to start. And that it is horrible that it closes and that it makes me absolutely sad. I also recall that I wanted to say a million other things but somehow couldn’t find the words – it’s the camera in my face syndrome, I get nervous.

I don’t know, I am not good in camera interviews, my brain behaves weirdly when a camera is pointed at me so I just hope that any of it was useful.

I was pleased to see that two very nice and passionate people are doing this whole documentary project. They are the right people to do this and I am sure the end result will be something good and a nice tribute to The Cafe. It was great meeting them.

They were also well-prepared, “So which booth is it?” being one of the first questions they asked me. I pointed it out. “Do you always sit there?”. If it’s free, I do.
I hadn’t told them anything in advance but they had clearly done some research. We did indeed wait until The Table was free, moved over there and shot my interview in the only place appropriate, behind that one yellow formica table.

I had another short chat with Lorenzo after the interview. Asked him if he really was going to trash and pulverize the whole interior after the last day and the answer was “Up til the very last screw”. I understand why he wants to do it, but the thought is nearly unbearable.

I thought about the first time I was there. I didn’t know then that you just sit down and get served, so I ordered at the till. Spilled tea on my plate when carrying it and shaking too much and I will never forget his
Give the lady a new plate, she is shaking. Sit down, he’ll bring you your tea.. I guess it was love at first sight with that Cafe and its people.

He also told me again about the time they were wondering if something had gone wrong on my train trip. Nothing went wrong, I just horribly neglected the cafe after I came back, something I now regret intensely. And I finally dared to tell him what the Cafe means to me personally, and that it has been an inspirational place, a great place to write. “So you think so too” he said to my surprise. I was sure. “There is magic stardust in the air here, you won’t find it in Starbucks”. He is so right. And he promised to watch the film soon.

Don’t come and say “You’ll find another place” because I really don’t want to hear that right now. If you think I sound too much like a Drama Queen lately, then that’s probably because I am sometimes. The closure of the Cafe feels like losing a good friend. And that hurts.

Here are two nice quotes to wrap it all up:

On from the owner of THE cafe : “a good caff should feel like an old comfortable suit, you put it on and immediately feel relaxed”.

Film director David Yates agrees and says that the cafe had “a quintessential romantic quality that was perfect for his film The Girl in the Cafe”, a love story by Richard Curtis.

~

“Will you come back before we close?” he asked me.
And however much I hate the concept of saying goodbye, in any situation – because it makes me sad, of course I will – somewhere next week. Last chance to see.

9 thoughts to “the girl on the (new piccadilly) cafe”

  1. Heartfelt and poignant words for the impending loss of a friend. So glad you shared what the cafe meant to you with the owner. So often we let such moments go by without saying what we long to say.

  2. No chance at all that you can obtain a small piece of the interior, for memory’s sake?

  3. Just be bold. Walk into the cafe. Pick up a table, chair or the item you fancy and walk out again.

  4. I just found your blog trying to find if anyone else cared that the New Piccadilly was closing; and there is!

    I wish I had discovered the cafe earlier, I found it two years ago when I started working in a theatre of Shaftesbury Avenue. I sat in there during the Soho powercut last summer and brought every person I know to the cafe to show them how perfect it is.

    I’d always order bangers and mash with a coke, and they knew my order before I said it.

    I don’t know where I’m going to eat before work now… The New Piccadilly was always my little corner of London, I’ve lived here all my life, tried thousands of cafes but never felt comfortable in any but the New Piccadilly.

    I refuse to eat in a chain place in Soho (much to the annoyance of friends who want a bite at Nandos or a drink at Starbucks arthgtfrg) as far as I’m concerned the New Piccadilly saved London for me, and when she’s gone I don’t know what I’ll do. It’s not just a cafe!

    I want some of the cafe for myself too. I might ask for a menu.

  5. @Marieke/Pedro – I don’t think any physical part of the Cafe would make a difference. In the end it is all about memories not things. I have written a couple of them down, combined with some photos and my signed DVD, that must be it. I look forward to seeing the documentary though, as that is another very nice way to remember and honour the place, as both customers and the staff are in it.

    @Carrie – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I know I am not the only one feeling like this, I think there are too many. I don’t know what to say, it’s a sad thing, and yes it was my little corner of London too. I am still secretly hoping that someone will come and rescue it. But that’s unrealistic.

    And for those wondering – it’s a bit quiet here because I am not really in the mood for writing at the moment. It will come again.

  6. Yes, he’s a lovely chap – we asked the waiters if they wanted to be in the shot and they were a bit shy, so Lorenzo stepped in to save the day! He’s very convincing in the role, we think!

    Bizarre cast list for The Good Night… Hollywood heavyweights and British sitcom stars?

  7. He’s a lovely chap indeed, I will miss him. And he has potential as an actor!

    The Good Night – it is a bizarre cast indeed. However Simon Pegg is good friends with Gweneth Paltrow, and her brother wrote the script, which probably explains why he is in it. Gweneth did a cameo in Hot Fuzz too. Martin Freeman is good friends with Pegg too, he was both in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead :-) I guess it’s all about having the right contacts.

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