exploring art and writing

Bored in a Café.

In Life, storytelling, Thinking on November 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

Not exactly what I’m looking for…
Edward Hopper’s ‘Automat’ 1927.

Peep Show:
Mark: Did you, you know, make your move?
Jeremy: No, no. She was going to Starbucks to read a book. It’s one of her things.

It’s just one of those things: people love to sit in coffee houses, mostly on a Sunday, and create the hell out of something.

I’m not one to make sweeping judgments, so let’s just say for the sake of this blog that I’m actually talking about myself. I remember watching Robert Webb utter those words and feeling an interior swell of shame. Oh God, I panicked, I love going to Starbucks and reading.*

And writing. And pondering. Maybe with some spontaneous life drawing chucked in for good measure. J. K. Rowling famously did it. The Parisian intellectuals were renowned for it. There are legends of political coffee house gatherings debating the Franco-Prussian War, the suppression of coffee-houses by Charles II in an attempt to eradicate the spread of scandalous, Monarchical rumours, and of citizens playing games, telling stories and reciting poetry in the Ottoman empire.

But why does sitting in a café work for me?

Obviously, the people have something to do with it. The sweaty shoppers; the snotty toddlers; the be-fringed teens; the business associates. The elderly couple are my most treasured subjects. And whilst for matters of sanity I’m limited to decaff, the tides of people that ebb in and out of coffee houses play a soundtrack that fits oh-so-perfectly with my Gutless Wonder cappuccino. Unless Shania Twain is yodelling about being ‘sexy in her socks’ over the sound system. Then everything is ruined.

I suppose I still experience that twang of embarrassment at fulfilling the coffee-goer stereotype. But I could look at it another way: if it wasn’t for coffee houses I sure as Shania would never write anything on this blog, and I definitely wouldn’t get any of my assignments done. Although I would be a lot, lot richer.

* Allow me to note that I only specify Starbucks here because they are the ultimate chain to take advantage of: you don’t feel guilty staying for hours and you can stroll onto any street and spy the green mermaid swimming amongst all the other less-definable brands. Easy. But there are plenty of independent coffee houses that are more worth a haunt.

  1. I love this video Jenni, thank you! I would love my coffee to be served on a silver tray with a glass of water…the Viennese know how to do things with style 🙂

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