My fantasy occupation is to run a cake shop and café. An English cake shop, with fairy cakes, not cup cakes, plain but appealing sponge cakes and Arse Biscuits.When I was going proper, foaming at the mouth, off the rails mad at the end of 2005, I used to try and calm myself down, lying wakefully insane in bed, by imagining the menu at my fantasy café, and the décor. It would be a cross between Treacle and Peyton & Byrne, but all my own, and BETTER. (Incidentally, I alternated these fantasies with the most bleak, brutal Scandinavian crime novels. They were the only two things gripping enough to me at that time to take my mind of going nutso).
Today Beatrice and I stopped off in a café I have walked past many times but never been in to. She knows the owner. And, oh, but it is perfect. Not the slightly chintzy, cluttered cake shop of my dreams, but a more spare and stylish Scandinavian cafe. There's a minimal menu of coffee and kanelbullar, a gigantic 1970s map of Sweden on the wall, a couple of outsized delapidated leather armchairs among the ergonomic pine seating. But it's cosy and it smells and feels GOOD. It's a place you'd want to spend time in. We had iced coffee - remember I couldn't find iced coffee anywhere in Brussels? Well you have to ask specifically, he doesn't even advertise it, but, man, it was good.
Beatrice explained more to me. The owner is stubbornly, irrationally, against marketing of all kinds, and seemingly against profit, refusing to sell anything other than his core menu of coffee and cinnamon rolls, a couple of grudging paninis. He's made no money (astonishing!) and he's had enough of working like a dog, so he wants out. Beatrice and I look at each other, two eurodrones with a crazy dream.
So now we're fantasising. There's no good coffee in Brussels! It should work! It just needs some decent advertising and an overhaul of costs, says Beatrice. Flyers at the FNAC and the European Parliament, and we'd be packed. Especially with free wifi. I could do biscuits and cakes! I say. There's only one cupcake bakery in Brussels and nothing like I'd doing... I go into a reverie of adding a little extra counter for cake, imagine the take away cake box packaging, decide already where we should put our second branch (right by the Parliament to catch all those displaced eurocrats with per diems burning a hole in their pockets). I can see us, really see us, behind the counter, the sun streaming in through the plate glass windows (it's fantasy remember), happy customers chatting quietly at every table. In my vision, realistically, Beatrice is doing the hard stuff, and I am arsing around with icing.
It's a great, delicious fantasy. I already know it's going to get me through any dark patches of late night anxiety and despair in the coming weeks. Cinnamon rolls and scones and good coffee. Now excuse me while I get into my shepherdess outfit, I have lambs to dye pink and hooves to polish to a high shine.
Tell me - what's your fantasy job change? What kind of Marie-Antoinette would you like to be?