Sunday, 11 February 2007

Coffee on the Moor

Wintry sunshine on a Sunday in February - bright enough to encourage a stroll, punctuated by coffee in one of the pavement bars. Goodness - it's just like being abroad, isn't it! Except that in most parts of Europe, when you go into a pavement bar, a waiter comes over, greets you, wipes down the table, and takes your order. Two minutes later, you're sipping your cafe latte or twirling the straw in your cocktail. In Heaton Moor, it's different. You sit down - carefully avoiding the chocolate sludge clotted over the table after the last customers - and then ... well, you wait. You wait five, or maybe ten minutes. You wonder if they've closed or there's a strike in the kitchen. And then just before you decide to move on, a sullen work-experience waitress appears and mumbles something you can't understand. No greeting. No welcome of any kind. But you are so relieved to be served at all, you order your coffee. Be prepared to spend a lot more time watching street life pass its merry course: youths dressed for summer staggering out of the Elizabethan, hailing taxis; young girls in pink shell suits and high heels clustering in the telephone booth; the Conservative club disgorging a motley group of daytime revellers. Eventually your coffee will appear - most of it in the cup if you're lucky, and thoughtfully pre-cooled. And here's where the only advantage of this experience comes in. Following this, you will be left undisturbed, for a long, long time.

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