Any time you doubt the power of a deadline… if you ever wonder if miracles still happen… if you question whether the impossible can occasionally become possible… remember the story of Eamonn Day, exactly three years ago today.
On Monday 20th February 2012, we were handed the key to an empty shell at the base of the ARC apartments – and asked to be ready for Sunday 26th February, when Eamonn Holmes and a Songs Of Praise film crew would arrive to film in our busy community cafe.
And so, with apologies to the book of Genesis, began the Six Days of Creation:
In the beginning, The Dock created a little piece of Heaven on Earth. The cafe was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep puddles.
And the team said, We’d better paint the floor. And so they hoovered, and they swept, and they painted. And there was morning, and there was evening, and then the paint dried nicely overnight – the first day.
And the team said, We’d better do some planning. And behold! there was coffee, and there were ideas, and there was much chat and laughter and excitement about this crazy idea of running an Honesty Box Cafe. And there was a plan, and it was good. The second day.
And the Electricians and the Plumbers did come unto the cafe and work their wonders. The waters did flow; there was a sink, and a tap, and there were plugs, and power, and the team did flick a switch and say Let there be Light! and there was light – the third day.
And the pictures and signs did come unto the cafe. The team did construct wooden display boards, and did paint them with a coat of white paint. And then another. And then another. And still the flipping things weren’t white enough. But the pictures went on the walls according to their kinds, and the Dock logo went above the doors and windows according to their kinds. And there was art and there were signs (and wonders) – the fourth day.
And the team said, Let the furniture increase in number, let it be fruitful and multiply to fill the cafe and cover the floor. And so a battered old white van was purloined, and across land and sea didst travel Chris and Jeremy, to borrow and beg and buy and bargain every last free or cut-price piece of furniture in greater Belfast. And there were chairs, and there were tables; there were shelves and there were sofas – the fifth day.
And then verily did the gloves come off. The cafe was cleaned from end to end and top to bottom. The flat-pack furniture was created in the image of the little man on the ikea instruction sheet. The tea was arranged according to its kind, and the coffee according to its kind, and the mugs and the plates and the glasses and the spoons according to their kinds. And it was so. And there was evening, and there was morning, and then there was midnight, and then there was still more to do, and so the team kept working and building and moving and shaping, for Eamonn was coming. And finally, there was relief and there was calm (and there was exhaustion) – the sixth day.
And so, on the seventh day, Eamonn Holmes walked in the cool of the cafe in the heat of the day. He saw all that had been made. He chatted to the people. He had a cup of tea. And he said that it was very good.