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Back Buzz - February 14, 2009

pumping heartTwenty Two A Coffee Shop, 22A Norfolk Row, Sheffield S1, South Yorkshire

The first time I noticed Twenty Two A Coffee Shop (as in "22-A Coffee Shop", not "Twenty Two, A Coffee Shop") was when I passed by one day several years ago, and I've always been curious about it since. Situated in a pedestrian-only lane directly across from the Cathedral Church of St Marie, Twenty Two A from the outside looks like your traditional upscale English coffee shop, e.g. in the style of a tea room upmarket enough to have an espresso machine.
Having arrived in the city centre on a recent snowy morning with half an hour to kill before work, I decided to stop in. Entering past the pavement tables and a bed of blooming daffodils, I found the cafe to be empty except for two businessmen having breakfast. The coffee menu didn't mention macchiatos, but since it was only 9:30 in the morning and I'd just had breakfast I decided a cappuccino was more appropriate. I was pleased to find the coffee menu did offer two sizes of cappuccinos, both with the option of an extra shot. I ordered the smaller size (Medium) with an extra shot, assuming it would be like Seattle's double short cappuccino. Sadly it was served in a huge cafe au lait cup, full to the brim and with a heavy sprinkling of sugary cocoa, which I hastily scooped off with the spoon that was thankfully included. I can't say much for the cappuccino. Even though under close examination it did appear to be a cappuccino rather than a latte, it still had far too much milk for even two shots of espresso to struggle through. So I can't honestly tell you what the coffee itself is like, except that it obviously isn't particularly robust.
I sat on a wall-long bench that was entirely covered with soft gently coloured throw pillows, creating a comfy cosy cushiony atmosphere suggestive of a litter of Bagpusses. I browsed leisurely through the 5 menus on my table. The sandwich menu excited me, because they offer Wensleydale sandwiches on thick cut granary bread, and all sandwiches are served with either salad or the outstanding Yorkshire Crisps. The sandwich choices also include Houmus, Turkey and Cranberry, Ham and Blue Cheese, Chicken and Bacon in Tarragon Mayo, and Turkey and Wensleydale, and there is also a Bacon and Blue Cheese Bagel, a Vegetarian or 3-Cheese Club Sandwich, and the creations just go on and on. There is also a Wensleydale with cranberry toastie as well as an Apple Pie toastie, and plenty of filled wraps, salads, hot dishes, soups, cakes, and a wide range of hot breakfasts including a wonderful sounding cinnamon and vanilla French toast with fresh fruit and cr£me fraiche. The breakfasts are all quite reasonably priced, but the sandwiches start at £3.95, making them a bit pricey for my normal workday lunch. Nevertheless the food menu is extremely tempting, so I'll have to give it a try for a special treat.
On the wall beside me was a large drawing by Gustav Klimt that reminded me of a drawing given to me years ago by Lisa, an artist and the lead singer of my band Young Moderns. And the deep dusty red, white, and light wood colour scheme added to the nostalgic feeling striking me. With all those comfy cushions it was more like a pillow fight of nostalgia. The view out the front window of St Marie's Church sent me back, back, back to when I still lived in California and went to the UK and Europe only on holiday. Should I get out my camera, I thought? Should I write a few postcards? No, sadly it was time for me to get to work...

Speaking of work reminds me of a recent e-mail exchange with a now former workmate, as he is still working at Learning Centre #2 and I have started working at Learning Centre #1: I hope you are well. This weekend I've been unwell with my usual dusty, tired cold. Naturally enough, it's cleared up now, just in time for me to go back to work. I wonder how the shelving is going.

So how is your new world at Learning Centre #1? Is it bright and bouncy and fun? How is everyone?

Anyway, it is late. I am writing this at night, as it's the one way to be sure you'll read it before it becomes out of date. So I shall go to bed now and cough my last bits of snot out of my lungs so that I might be cleansed for the day ahead.

Happy shelving! I am here at LC1 and my nose still drips although I feel well again. Well enough to shelve, which is all I want in this life. Give me the strength to shelve, o God of Sinuses!

Haven't seen many of my new workmates yet. I have shelved an impressively small number of trolleys, but I have done quite a bit of tidying/juggling because things are extremely untidy here. I have already succeeded in overstraining my two pretty-much-healed thumbs so that they once again flap listlessly in the wind as I go about my thumbless task.

Queen Ramenthumbhonbuk
Temple of LC1 (LC2 calling LC1; LC2 calling LC1; Do you read me, LC1?)

I'm glad to hear you are back to your usual peak of physical fitness and that your thumbs are again but useless hunks of blubber.

Unopposable thumbs is the next stage in human evolution. You are becoming more than a Queen: you are becoming a Goddess in LC1. You aren't radiating yet are you? Cos that could get quite distracting. I suppose it depends what wavelength you radiate at.

While I contemplate the questions of whether or not I can pick up Radio JC from inside LC2, and if I could would I be a regular listener, I shall leave you (as per tradition) with an identical pair of variables:


[...which may be better expressed as "x²".] The main disadvantage of working at LC1 is the fact that the shelves are in a ridiculous state of chaos. I feel a bit impotent because I've been averaging 2 trolleys in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, as opposed to the 50,000 per day I was capable of doing at LC2. This is not just because I get to choose and sort my own books to shelve -- not to mention choose the floor on which I want to work -- but because many of the shelves are imitating Japanese puzzle boxes, where you have to figure out which horizontal or diagonal book to pull out first without the entire shelf collapsing. I assume my scores shall improve, although I'm not sure about the survival of all 10 fingers/thumbs.

Must go back to Politics now.


(...I win!) Ah, yes. The Japanese Puzzle Box shelves. I remember there being a lot of them at LC3 and LC1. The LC3 ones were particularly frightening because they were the sort of books that could kill you if you got it wrong. It was like Hellraiser there on some occasions. The after-effects of the line manager falling into that pin cushion didn't help matters. Especially as it was during his Rubik's Cube phase. Scary times.

I shall now nurse the bruises wrought in your noughts and crosses game.

One of the people I was at university with was called Politics, so that last sentence of yours I keep misreading. When I say that he was called Politics, I mean that was what we called him. It wasn't his real name. His real name was Andrew. But he was doing Politics. Actually, he was doing Politics, Philosophy and Economics. But that would've been too much of a mouthful. Quite how we came to call him Politics rather than Andrew I don't recall. We knew another Andrew but that came later. I'm sure it stemmed from a hilarious misunderstanding or somesuch.

Calling him Politics would be like calling you Shelving.

General Assistant. Speaking of Japanese Puzzle Box shelves, I was attacked violently twice yesterday, once by a spring that was obviously boobytrapped (I thought I broke my finger) and again by an avalanche of very heavy books falling directly on the top of my head.

Just for your knowledge, I split up with Politics yesterday morning. He just wasn't addressing the Immigration issue in a reasonable way. I'm off for my first date with Workplace Ergonomics and Ecology.

Pushing and Struggling But Not Sweating (aka PSBNS) Your fingers are unbreakable. They are made of the same substance as your thumbs. True, they may become bent beyond memory, but they will not break in a conventional sense. Your head is a different matter. Maybe you should wear a shelving helmet. They come in all sorts of demeaning colours.

How was the date? The trouble with Workplace Ergonomics and Ecology is that it abbreviates to WEE. And that's just not very appealing. Just ask Wee Willie Winkie. He had terrible trouble finding a mate. He was still a reluctant bachelor at the age of 92. He used to get his kicks by leaping naked over an exposed flame, which probably didn't help his cause any. That sort of peccadillo just wasn't well shared in those days. WEE must count himself fortunate therefore that you deigned to trot out with him. You've saved him from a life of playing "Pro Candle-Jumper Assault 2" on the Nintendo. And once you've played that a few times, no-one will ever want to touch your game-controller again. It's a self-fulfilling spiral into isolation. He didn't invite you round to play it did he?

Ok. I must go now. The web can't trawl through itself.

Michele Wee