Café culture

A cup of coffee

My last blog post was written almost entirely on the number 24 bus. I began this one sitting on a bench in the freezing cold waiting for a building to open. That seems apt in a way, because I’m thinking about public spaces where we can sit and relax, away from our domestic or work surroundings, which may be freighted with expectations of action. Not that I recommend benches in this weather.

Sometimes I visit cafés with friends. This is a relatively novel experience for me – the idea of meeting someone ‘for a coffee’ – and I still haven’t got to grips with how to do it regularly or how often it’s considered appropriate to meet people. (That said, at the time of writing this, I am preparing to meet an unprecedented three people for coffee over the next couple of weeks!)

Something else I’ve started doing over the past few months, though, which might seem a little less social – and would certainly have seemed extravagant to me in the past – is visiting cafés by myself. I occasionally pop into a local café for a coffee, or even lunch.

In fact, I had developed a bit of a routine, visiting a café (Organic Delicious) for lunch almost every Wednesday, just after counselling. It was bright and cheerful, the staff were lovely, and I was a big fan of their falafel ciabatta sandwiches. It was just quiet enough to be non-stress-inducing, but busy enough for me to be able to live vicariously through the social interactions of other people. It would be impossible to find a café exactly like it. So I was quite upset when it closed without warning. (The Twitter account appears to have been abandoned, and the website is ‘under construction’ – there I was, thinking that was a ’90s thing.)

Anyway, I’ve found another café now. It’s not the same. They do nice coffee and cakes, and I’ve previously enjoyed a delicious bowl of soup here (yes, I’m writing this in a café – how very JK Rowling of me!), but it hasn’t become a regular lunch venue.

When you have a lot of changes going on in your life, it’s nice to have a few predictable corners, and it can be hard when they’re taken from you.