November 21: a new cafe number five

Another new cafe on Kennington Road. This one is called ‘Coffee and Plants’. They do coffee and plants. I went there today. It has replaced the Portuguese cafe which has now bitten the dust. This new one is a new type of cafe. They just do coffee and there are some plants there you can buy. It used to be the Newsagents before the newsagent retired and went back to India. We got on well, the newsagent and me, and had little chats when I went to get my Guardian on Saturday mornings. I don’t get the Guardian any more, not since they changed it to tabloid. I’d been looking for a reason to save that £2.80 or whatever it was. The tabloid was the trigger. Anyway, now it’s a cafe. In the cafe there were two other customers. They were examining their phones. I didn’t have a phone to examine or, rather, there was nothing to examine on my phone, apart from old text messages from last week which said things like ‘all right’ or ‘see you there’. I had the ‘London Review of Books’ to read. The ‘London Review of Books’ replaced the Guardian about a year ago, about the time my newsagent went back to India. In the cafe nobody was speaking. It was silent apart from one man swallowing his coffee. I could hear his Adam’s Apple going up and down as the flat white travelled down his gullet. There was music, kind of new age ambiant music, unbearable music really, music for an aquarium or fish tank. They have a cafe in Brighton, they said, and did research about where the best place was to set up in London and they found Kennington Road. It was a bit antiseptic, the new cafe. Maybe it will advance when it gets some smells and dirt in it. There are now five independent cafes on Kennington road, all within fifty yeards of each other, each with their own unique selling points, all part of a complex Venn diagram of customer appeal. Where you end up is a good gauge of your identity.

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