A multiple-toddler play date at home and the open-‘plan’ office at college mean I’m working in cafés again today. Strangely, this is easier in Kilburn than Muswell Hill (where I am now, because I have to pop to the opticians’ again in a bit and it’s far easier here to get a birthday card that I needed for Steve because he’s turning 40 tomorrow and even though I think he’s probably at his parents’, whose address I don’t have, I couldn’t not send him a card lest it look like I forgot his birthday which I did in 2003 when he was ill and alone and I called from an amazing gig I was playing to talk about how wonderful my life was). Nothing feels like it should be easier in Kilburn, but actually many things are. The place looks and feels completely chaotic, but things are set up pretty well, with every mad thing coexisting with and dovetailing into the next. It’s become a second home, where I feel like Patrick McGoohan’s Number Six, except I know who Number One is, and the new Number Two is all right.

So I’m confronted with a café conundrum. I’m often in Nero, but didn’t go there today, for a range of interconnected reasons. The Nero staff – especially the humourless, overweight lady who only works evenings – have a particular enthusiasm for throwing the crockery around, creating an outrageous, deafening racket that even my custom earplugs cannot muffle; it’s also a bit out of my way – not much, as Muswell Hill’s hardly big, but Costa is between the card shop and the optician, both of which I needed earlier on. Plus the coffee tastes better at Costa, and my phone connects to the wifi in some special way because it’s O2 (at least I think it does, or is that in Nero?). Nero has almost nowhere to plug in a laptop but has superior cakes and closes at 6; Costa has multiple plug sockets but scores of screaming children and the air conditioning set to “Antarctic”; it’s open till 7.30, though. Starbucks closes at 7; however, their wifi is dodgy and, again, few plug sockets. Plus Moving locations means buying more fluids and cakes.

A collaborative hush descends over Costa and lasts all of about four minutes. Then more girls arrive, all 13, and all testing their outdoor voices. As I abandon attempts to write anything sociological and instead start to vent silently in a blog (huffing occasionally, though, so they know), one of the party remembers she skipped lunch, so they must adjourn to Starbuck’s. I really need to stand up for a bit now, but have achieved roughly fuck all with my afternoon so stay seated. My fingers are freezing and I didn’t bring my hat. I need access to books that are at home, and to a PDF on a hard drive hidden cunningly in my bottom desk drawer so no one will find my backups if they break in. Maybe I’ll just order some wine online. Could pop to the loo again, I suppose.

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