It’s quarter past five and Summer and I, whilst charging towards the epicentre of London, have fallen upon Fork Deli. We’ve been to the British Library. It was something of a role reversal as I had never been there and a Taiwanese person was my tour guide. There were certain access points for which I did not have the necessary clearance codes. At the entrance you just walk through and men in aviator sunglasses check your bags. After saying ‘move along, sir,’ a secretarial looking woman checks your identification: passport, drivers license, both are required. Then comes the retina scan, for which you have to look briefly at an advert for the London Olympics, and a fingerprint test which checks your library record throughout London’s libraries. Any fines and you’re out. They then ask that you remove any telecommunications devices and writing instruments, any revolutionary literature or movies in foreign languages, ask you to sign a declaration pledging allegiance to the crown and upload your location on Facebook… and you’re in.
I fell at the literature hurdle. I waited outside and read Walter Benjamin while Summer attempted to get out some books. Unfortunately she failed one of the tests that is required for loaning books: she was unable to recite the numbers on the barcode for her library card while the staff threw screaming cats at her.
So we left and headed South, meandering through the pleasant streets that are commonplace around this My Fair Lady part of London. We ended up in here. I learnt some Chinese swear words and how to say ‘I live in London.’
Allow me to indulge in some pompous language and say, oh how this café is a delight. We have a delightful raisin danish, and my coffee is fine, just fine. Fine meaning good, like ‘the weather is fine’; not fine like OK. Summer’s hot chocolate is ‘too sweet’; she’s a very difficult person to please. A quarter of the room is dedicated to shelves of stuff – Teapigs tea, bowls of olives, jams and peanut butter. I have managed to pluck a chilli and ginger recipe from the side which will no doubt serve as a bookmark someday, rather than mutating into a tasty dish.
The Flaming Lips is on the stereo. The room is never empty but never busy. The guy behind the bar is never overwhelmed and is quite the convivial gent. People sit in twos and talk about things. Try as I might I cannot hear what they are talking about, I guess it’s private. One might write a novel in cafés such as this, and if I lived closer and had the time and intelligence to write one then I would stop by here for that.