Sue and I met 13 years ago when we both started running with the Women’s Running Network. I was struggling to get up a hill and started a conversation with the her to try and distract myself. She was very keen on a piece of running tech she’d just acquired and we chatted about technology quite happily for the next few miles. That formed the pattern for many more miles – we ran and we talked. About tech, books, kids (she has three), work, races and all the places we’d been and wanted to go. We must have run, walked, cycled and swum half way round the planet by now, but there’s no sign of us running out of conversation. Life has dealt us both the odd bad card over the years, and when it happens, I know Sue is there with a shoulder to cry on and some good advice. Her own problems are handled with stoicism and dignity. We went to Rome together to run the marathon and in spite of the fact that Sue had broken her foot and couldn’t run, she made damn sure I had a great time. But that’s her all over – she’s an island of calm in the choppy, unpredictable ocean of life.
Being working class and Welsh, the idea of the carbohydrate part of a meal consisting of half chips, half rice is nothing new, but apparently it’s unheard of in Southern and/or middle class England. When Sue specifically mentioned Footlights Cafe because it’s quiet, cheap and does a great chicken curry with half and half, I was sold. Not because I want chips of course, but because any Southern English or posh people I know need to have this gastronomic phenomemon brought to their attention.
The curry was, as Sue promised, delicious. It was a British curry, never mind all that foreign nonsense with fragrant spices and fresh herbs, this was large lumps of chicken breast languished in a thick, sweet, bright orange sauce with very little subtlety or depth. It was simple, tasty and plentiful. The coffee, sadly, was execrable. It came from a bean to cup machine which always makes me pause, but this was just awful.
The cafe is run by the theatre and therefore I assume, the city council. This is presumably why it can manage to remain in business when it’s almost always empty, why its portions are so lavish and why its staff is so pleasantly relaxed, friendly and underworked.
2 October 2014
Footlights Cafe, Grand Theatre, Swansea
Spending any time with Sue is always interesting. She’s a grandmother who can think like a teenage boy. Sometimes. Other times she thinks like she’s been thinking since time began. The first thing she did was give me a book on philosophy. A few minutes later she wanted to know if I liked the new Doctor Who. I love the way with Sue you never know what you’ll get next. She has worked with some seriously ill people in her time and yet never seems to lose her sense of fun and hope for the future.
We talked about running and what is best to run to in lieu of the company of other runners – (talking books for her, rock music for me). She is writing now, so we had the usual conversation about what we were reading but also the ups and downs of writing and publishing.
I came away with a list of books to read, ideas to think about, runs and cycle rides to try and a thought about Peter Capaldi – yes he’s good, but why all that hype? He’s just another white middle class male. Now if he’d been a black woman, that would have been worth making a fuss…