Craving a proper cup of tea.

By 2pm yesterday I was in my 3rd coffee shop of the day.  I need to get back to work soon: my heart and wallet can`t cope with this.

I can`t avoid them.  Cheap chains cluster around the train stations in Tokyo.  Regularly full, the crowds seem to come not craving coffee but a chance to sit down.  As soon as they enter they are hunting down tables for their laptop or textbook, which they open up to study from and/or sleep on.

The atmosphere is like a pre-exam classroom with the students, a selection of random, any-age strangers, all absorbed in the printed word, the screen or page blocking out the world around them.  I saw one staff member tell off a young lad twice for talking too loudly.  The disturbance was less the volume of his voice than the incongruous excited tone of it.

“Listen sunshine, I hope you haven`t come in here to have fun,” I imagine she told him.

In some respects, it is probably a good job nobody comes for the coffee.  It is frequently dreadful – heated ditch-water sprinkled with dust from the Nescafe factory floor.  The caffeine content is so paltry as to barely register, a gentle tap on the shoulder not the much-needed kick up the arse.

Still, at least their pastries are quite nice.

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