I am at the other end of Brockley, after a failed attempt to get a hair cut. To be here having a coffee is in many ways preferable, although I realise that I am simply delaying the inevitable awkward conversation with someone who has a pair of scissors worryingly close to my neck.
Pat-a-Cakes is new, about 6 months old. It joins the creeping moss of cooky, quaint and particular places popping up in the South, squeezing out the greasy spoons. The resurgence of the cupcake, as Chris Sav notes elsewhere… is exemplified here. Cupcakes have shed the oppressive unwritten rules that determine their existence, and are finding new leases of life. So what are they like? Well, I didn’t have one to be honest. But they adorn the space beneath the counter like an impressive array of colourful, bloated spots, hidden behind a glass panel and selling for £1.80 each.
The place is wooden and delicate, more ‘tea room’ than ‘coffee house’. My coffee comes in a soup bowl of a cup, and I consider getting a cupcake to dip in like a piece of toast. But before long the effortless banality of Radio 2 lulls my struggling mind into a stupor, and I sit, almost catatonic, listening to Christopher Cross. I am riled from this state by a newcomer, putting the number of people in here up to three, including me and the Cupcake Lady who I assume owns the place.
The newcomer is a girl, mid-twenties, latté in a glass. She works on something, reading and writing, looking astute. I am on a sofa, doing my best to look similarly astute. I throw a contemplative glance outside and stroke my beard to this effect.
The room is slightly bare and I think the café is still finding its voice. It’s a little bit careful, a bit precious, not loungy enough. But hats off to those with the enthusiasm for cupcakes, for their adamant dismissal of the cupcake haters, of whom there are many, and for their willingness to say, like the president in Independence Day, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our cupcake Independence Day!”