Some days can be one of those days that come upon one when one feels the need to people watch. This day was one of those for oneself. One had fun.
I chose to go to the
new Starbucks opposite the railway station in Nottingham for my
people watching pleasure and a coffee. This was about 9am this
morning. The refurbished building is the former home to the Bentinck
Hotel and public house and was smaller inside than I ever imagined it
to be. The friendly Starbucks assistant took my order and my name.
The cappuccino was presented to me as “Coffee for Phil?” Now
that's personalisation for you. I have been officially branded as a
Starbucks' customer to be greeted by name next time and politely
asked, “Your usual Phil? Cappuccino, medium?”
The coffee, almond
croissant and I sat in the window and watched the world and its
mobile phone go past.
There were a fair few-
dodgy weasel - like characters sloping off toward the Job Centre or
maybe to catch a tram. Who knows the course of destiny in this life?
These weasels are easily identified with their pointed faces, jagged
yellow teeth, flickering dark eyes, nervous of being spotted in the
daylight and sporting pale blue and white nylon track suit ensembles
last seen on documentaries about 1970s Eastern Bloc athletes. In the
animal kingdom a male weasel is known as a dog, a buck, a Jack, or a
hob while females are known as a Jane, a doe, or a bitch. From what I
saw out in the rough and tumble of Station Street, there may have
been a few Troy, Tyler and Chantelles among them as well. And a few
dogs. I'm resisting further comment.
In England, groups of weasels can be seen moving around together in
early summer. These are usually a mother and her young, out on a
hunting expedition which can be quite large due to a good breeding
year. Many of my passers-by may well have savagely hunted down a
lucrative Giro and its distant cousins.
I also saw a few
confused looking individuals with travel bags standing underneath the
huge sign that points to the temporary ticket office and train
station entrance. They seemed oblivious of its presence. In the world
of pantomime someone would have been compelled to shout out “It's
BEHIND YOU!” Instead I drank my coffee and nibbled the almond
As I wet my finger to
pick up the sweet almondy crumbs of my almond croissant I witnessed
the blur of an older man rapidly pushing a small child in a
pushchair. The adult and child both had the exact same unhappy
grimace on their faces and the man, with his thick, shoulder length,
dirty blonde hair, could have been a world weary Brad Pitt twenty
years from today playing the lead in the film 'The Baby Pusher.'
Someone is now behind
me on his mobile phone talking the talk. I hear snippets of...
'function' ...'very exciting'...'what we might do is'... 'get Clive
to sort it'... 'sorry I'm in Nottingham. Starbucks'... This was
followed by some warm laughter from the man and I noticed he said the
word 'does' like 'das'.
Then a rat scuttled
past. Not of the type Rattus norvegicus but a truncated man, all long
brown straggles of greasy matted hair and a filthy looking coat. Mr
Ratty reminded me of a roughish, tricolour swathed, historical
character living in revolutionary France whose destiny it was to
scurry about, squeaking and shrieking, claiming liberal freedoms for
all mankind and rodents too! The last I saw of rat man was his
bruised and battered tricorn hat falling into the bloodied basket
along with his severed head. The Starbucks coffee drinkers rose in
blood thirsty unison and roared their barbarous approval and then
returned quietly to their beverages. One man tried to sing the French
national anthem but as nobody else knew the words, I stopped short at
… Aux armes, citoyens! Pity
really. I was getting quite roused.
Another passing fella's
gargantuan stomach heralded his arrival five minutes before the rest
of him came into sight. As he turned the corner two lanes of traffic
had to slam on their brakes to let him by.
As if to illumine this
parade of ne'er-do-wells a beam of godly light issued from the
heavens and a smartly dressed black couple in grey Sunday best coats
waltzed by in a triumph of beatific smiles. If only all the people
with their headphones turned up to max and those hypnotised by the
world of Nokia and Samsung had stopped to look and listen they would
have heard the heavenly chorus sing a mighty “Hallelujah!” But
alack and alas they did not and were not blesséd
among the throng.
Now comes the half
human storm that is the deep purple face of anger; a man bedevilled
by devils (or too much crack cocaine and Dandelion and Burdock). This
torment on legs had a twisted snarl on his face where, if a smile
ever did there reside, it would call itself – embittered and be
damned! His name was Gareth – meaning 'gentle one' in Welsh.
Gareth stood steaming
in the middle of Station Street, oblivious to the honking of the city
taxi hooters and Arabic curses and wrenched off his stripy blue and
red bobble hat, shouting madly to the skies “What happened to my
fucking drink Bentincks!!!”
You see that's what
happens when you turn a man's drinking hole into a coffee shop.
please and make it frothy.”
“Straight away Phil.
Medium isn't it?”