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Geno's Cafe
304 Union Street

The Beatles - Hello Goodbye

I used to spend half an hour of most days in here. To fill the gap between returning from University and picking my wife up from work, I'd come in, drink coffee, smoke a couple of hand-rolled cigarettes, read a newspaper and scribble stuff into my notebook; some of that stuff would get turned into nodes, some into daylogs, some would sticks in my head and come out somewhere else. Most of it, ended up in the bin.

The Doors - Light My Fire

In the far left corner of the cafe sit a couple in their late twenties, either side of a table against the wall. He's chain-smoking Benson & Hedges whilst she's shovelling a fry-up down her face. Their kid sits on a pushchair to the side. He's taking the tomato sauce off the table and throwing it to the ground. She picks it up and replaces it, but always within the kid's reach. By the window on the right hand side of me sit two girls -- about twenty at a guess. They're drinking milkshakes; one chocolate and one strawberry. They're talking about money -- or the lack of it -- and deciding what club they're going to go to for Jenny's birthday. Jenny, it turns out, is chocolate milkshake girl's little sister.

John Lennon - Mother

Then, about six months ago, they opened a new coffee shop further down town. It lured me. The new shop had good coffee; Geno's has filter stuff that's been sitting in the pot for too long. The new shop had sofas; Geno's had unconfortable chairs that are attached to the tables. The new shop had a loyalty card that gave you your tenth coffee free. The new coffee shop was posh -- it had italian music drifting through the air...

Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water

The girl with the fry-up smiles as Art Garfunkel sings out the first chorus and informs her partner that this is one of her favorite songs. "Yeah. One of Elvis' best," he replies -- loud enough to inform the whole cafe of his level of knowledge1. She doesn't say anything. But she smiles again; the sort of smile that suggests that she knows he's wrong but he says that sort of thing out-loud in public all the time and it's not worth contradicting him. And she's right. What would be the point? I still wouldn't have been able to let it go myself, though. Another couple come in. They order food and sit on the table to the right of me. He's big. He has muscles and a skinhead. He actually has a tattoo of an anchor on his arm. She's trying to look posh but isn't. She's immaculately dressed in cheap clothes, and she has painstakingly applied perfect makeup on a well work-worn face. She trys to talk in a well-pronounced voice, but fails to cover up the underlying Devonshire accent.

The Beta Band - Dry the Rain

...but Geno's has a stack of CDs somewhere, from which music is being played at random. Not only that, but it's generally good music; not some undefined pointless fake italian-style muzak. It has people, and they do odd things. In the posh coffee shop, smoking is restricted to three tables at the back. They always packed and you have to share a table. That's alright for a quick cup of coffee and a fag, but you can't spread out a broadsheet and -- more importantly -- you can't sit there scribbling stuff in a notebook.

The Beatles - Get Back

A plastic tomato sauce bottle skids across the floor, and comes to rest under my table. Across comes the girl from the corner to retrieve it. I bend down to pick it up for her and, as I come back up, she quickly glances away from my notebook. I hope she didn't manage to read anything. She thanks me and returns to her table where her partner is already getting up, and they leave. One of the staff comes out and sits on the table nearest to the counter and takes a pre-rolled cigarette out of a Golden Virginia tin. The other one delivers the second couple's food. He has fish and chips, she has -- what looks like, from here -- lasagne and chips. She destroys the reminants of her pretensions by drowning it all in an inch-thick layer of tomato sauce.

R.E.M - Everybody Hurts

So I'd been persuaded that I liked good coffee. I was a coffee connoisseur. None of your Necafe for me, thanks, I want only the proper stuff. Well, bollocks. I couldn't give a shit about the coffee. I couldn't give a shit about the sofas, the loyalty card, the fashionable decor. I like to be able to get a table to myself, to be able to see the pre-rush hour traffic through the condensation-soaked windows, the people dashing in from the rain. I want to be left the fuck alone with my thoughts, my newspaper and my notebook.

Radiohead - Just

Tatto man and partner are discussing what DVD to get on the way home. She wants Wimbledon because her friend told her it was good. He wants I, Robot because "it's got that Will Smith in it." The girls have moved on to discussing strawberry milkshake's boyfriend's upcoming court appearance. The quiet is split by my mobile phone ringing. After a brief conversation, half-whispered, facing the wall, I get up, collect my tobacco, rizla and car keys.

Simon & Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa

I'm leaving now, but I'll be back. Tomorrow at about 4.30, I'll be here again. I'll sit at the same table, drink shit coffee and scribble more stuff in my notebook. I wonder if that bloke would think this is Elvis too?

Thanks to DejaMorgana who informed me that "Elvis does in fact sing a hell of a good version of Bridge Over Troubled Water." Bugger. Well, this was definately S&G so I'll stay smug(ish).

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