The primary school of my two youngest children lies very close to our town centre, and so, often, I find myself ambushed by surprise texts from my wife to call down and get various items of grocery while I’m still on the perilous school run. Personal plans be damned.
Much more preferable, though, is when I have forewarning of this, as I take a book along with me so I can read a few chapters over coffee before entering the melee of consumer hell. With a house full of children, students, a wife (just the one), I take whatever chance I can get to thrust an uninterrupted nose into a book
This is the non-negotiable shopping chore trade-off.
I used to go into McDonald’s, but recently I have discovered a great coffee shop, situated below a tattoo parlour, run by a charming Polish guy, who, when I enquired about his opening hours in the morning, asked if 8 o’clock was okay for me? Straight away we got off on the right foot.
I prefer to give my custom to small, local businesses, and besides, this place is cheaper, friendlier, more personal, and the coffee is better too. The place is called Coffee And Dessert House, which pretty much does what it says on the tin, but I’m on a diet. It is a book reader’s perfect escape haven, and I have already placed my towel on my own spot: an armchair below a tall, standing lamp.
Dotted around the place are two portraits of Marilyn Monroe, and two portraits of Audrey Hepburn. An obvious draw are the deliberately slanted bookshelves. The owner has said I can take any that I fancy away with me to read, but, as usual, I have a long backlog of books to get through, but I appreciate the gesture.
You can keep your Happy Meals.
I was in there yesterday finishing The Great Gatsby, that great and tragic book, low music issuing from a retro-style record player adding to the past-time feel of the place. I have never seen the film, but when considering the eponymous character, Leonardo DiCaprio never comes to mind.
I could imagine some of Fitzgerald’s acquaintances sat in here, drinking cocktails rather than coffee. Maybe with a little more lace than I normally wear, with matching pearls.
My wife had another list of things for me to get this morning, so I left armed with my Kindle, which comes before the kids’ packed lunches. Having a break from the modern classics, I began an anthology of horror stories, selected chiefly because of the inclusion of two stories by two of my favourite horror writers: John Ajvide Lindqvist, of whom I haven’t read anything new for a while, and the inevitable Stephen King.
This morning I had my coffee dark. I should have been Swedish, I am made for fika.