Manchester Metropolitan University’s Starbucks Café is the setting on a windy, wet Friday afternoon, as the pleasant, but bitter, aroma of freshly percolated espresso battles with the sweet, woody qualities of Latte and Cappuccino for the mantle of ‘most fragrant and sought after smell’ as voted for by the transient visitors. All around, the multifarious sounds of foreign accents can be heard – including those of the silver-tongued Italian barista at the top of his game, ‘Ya stayin in or ya wanna that Lah-te ta go?’ – as the invigorated visitors ponder the difficult choice.
The centre of attention is a Canadian woman, whose large nose suggests that she may be of the Jewish persuasion, and whose ego, size-wise, is on par with her beak. As she wallows in what she perceives to be the melody of her voice, the irony unfolds, because in actuality the visitors think that her dulcet tones are like those of another beaked bird, the Blue-footed booby. The red-haired 22 year old man, sat facing her, is in a state of shock at her incessant tirade of verbal abuse directed at her new flatmate, who she considers to be a social pariah with a stoic disposition and a personality that doesn’t do her any favours. As the loose-mouthed utterances continue at a frenetic rate, her young friend remains awe-struck like a pride of Lions witnessing a thundering Serengeti storm. It is as clear as, pardon the pun, the nose on her face, that the verbal outburst hides the real purpose of her hastily arranged meeting: to trap herself a mate; preferably a red haired Brum. Alas, it would seem that her plan is bound to fail, as his sneaky glances at the tall, dark haired barista seems to indicate that his liking is for something else that stands out. The barista is oblivious to the sneaky peaks, for he has far more important things to take care of; one being the serving of Latte to a regular visitor, the professor of English.
It is often stated by those that know the professor that he, being a bit of a miserly character, deliberately delays his lunch, just so that he can take advantage of happy hour. The truth, however, is that he uses the quiet time to reflect on life, and at present his thoughts are in the late 1980s, a time when as a mere undergraduate reading English literature at Oxford, his life was much simpler. His reminiscence is short lived, as the warmth of the smooth, oversized mug causes the heat to race through his icy fingers like the heat of early spring sunshine thawing through the remnants of winter ice. As he savours the scent from the warm frothy liquid, he takes a cursory glance at his clothes and realises that his blue jeans, buttoned shirt, brown jacket and brown loafers have turned him into his dad. For some that would be upsetting, but for the professor that brings a smile.