Tag Archive: coffee


84941272_2854537271261086_2376828974551531520_nI like to make little stands against automation and the erosion of once simple concepts by unnecessary marketing, the slow Americanisation of once simple things and the perpetual desire by companies to make things cooler. I know things are all headed a certain way but I don’t use automated check-outs as a sort of stand against job losses to automation…it aint the people with funny coloured skin that will take your jobs it’ll be those pesky robots. I also tend not to use the fancy names that a simple thing like a cup of coffee has now, especially as I drink it straight up and black. Cup – beans – hot water! Simple. The stupidity of it hit home when I found myself not in my usual cool, liberal, hippieish, arty, musicy cafe, where they indulge my whims, but in one of those production line, chain coffee shops that have these days…the ones which serve children sized drinks and don’t pay any tax.

“Just a black coffee please.”

“Would that be an Americano?”

“If that equates to a straight-forward black coffee?”

“Yes, it does.”

“I’ll have one of those then, thank you.”

“One Americano. Do you want room for milk in it?”

“@&*!!£$@”

(Thanks to Only Connect I now know that the above sentence is known as a grawlix..well, it would be if it were in a cartoon speech bubble.

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.