A few weeks ago, we went to Edinburgh. It was the Edinburgh Festival, and the whole city was heaving with people, half of whom were apparently students in a show of some kind … my favourite pitch was for a show that was apparently a cross between American Psycho and American Pie. We didn’t go to see it. Chainsaws and dessert don’t mix.
Walking around Edinburgh, trying to do the normal touristy things at the same time that the Festival is in full swing is a tad tiring, and it’s easy to get slightly frazzled after being jostled all the way up the Royal Mile and back down again, so we took to camping out in many of the city’s excellent independent coffee shops (flat white, latte, hot chocolate, mocha and two slices of that chocolate cake please? Finished? Feel human again? Right, back into the throng).
So, one afternoon, we stumbled into a typically stripped bare and basic coffee shop, of the type that looks like they decided to have a refit, then gave up after the initial demolition phase, deciding instead to leave it at just bare brick, ragged concrete and dangling light bulbs, with a load of mis-matched furniture rescued from a skip outside some sort of institution that closed in the Sixties. These places are fine by me, because usually, all the money that would’ve been spent fitting the space out has been diverted into some beautiful, hissing espresso machine sat proudly on the counter, the sort that you can feel the quality and the power from ten feet away. The coffee is normally world-class.
There was some space in the back, so the kids went to sit down. What happened next was just astonishing.