People watching is also a great inspiration for writing. In his formative years as a writer, Jack Kerouac would sit in a bar or cafe and at speed write detailed sketches about his surroundings, the fixtures and fittings, the history and imagined backstory of the place in question. Again, The Railway Town offers a low grade version of such iconic ideas. And just like the bubble of my vision of sharing a coffee with Tom Waits busts into a slightly right wing, English cafe, my Kerouacian ideals are replaced by a chain coffee shop on the lower reaches of the main drag.

And whilst there are cooler, independent places more worth of my time and money, Baila in Old Town, Darkroom Espresso and Barristacats in the less salubrious parts of the town’s rough and ready heart, it is to Cafe Nero I am continuously drawn. 

For a start it is named after a mad emperor, one who famously and probably quite apocryphally, played the fiddle whilst The Eternal City burned, but mainly because its large glass frontage means that I have a glorious window on a not so glorious world. The coffee is good, the snack options fair and the staff all seem picked to match a few certain criteria.  They are generally female, attractive, slightly alternative looking and with that glorious, slightly unpinpointable (hey, Cervantes and Shakespeare made up words too) accent of someone who speaks fluent English as a second language, that evocative, mid-European burr. All of which works for me and also makes me miss Berlin.

But outside is where the action is, a bustle of people to-ing and fro-ing for work, lunch-grabbers and shoppers,  mixed in with The Greys, those people who seem to just be hanging around looking for opportunity or relieving boredom through hijinks, hustle and hassle, dressed in the drab sports gear that is their uniform. I’m sure that they too had ambition once but I guess at some point had it surgically removed by an unlicensed doctor operating above a kebab shop in Gorse Hill because they needed the cash for speed.

The pleasant surroundings of this establishment are put into sharp contrast by the fast food joint opposite whose use of primary colours on the facade seem to create an audible noise whilst below a line of mobility scooters are parked up like a scene from The Wild One as their supersized Marlon Brando’s tuck into another full English still unable to make the connection between fried food and weight related issues. “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against? “The answer is quite possibly salad.

All fodder for a book I may never write but all thoughts that I feel the need to get out of my head to make room for other, more bill-paying, assignments.