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Back Buzz - June 16, 2005

pumping heart Jalucy Coffee Shop, 552-554 Langsett Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Hidden away on the northwest edge of Sheffield, Hillsborough doesn't seem a likely location for a coffeehouse. Its main claim to fame is as the site of the Hillsborough Football Disaster of April 1989, in which 96 fans were crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium during an FA Cup Semi Final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool. Hillsborough is also the birthplace of the late Steve Clark, guitarist for Def Leppard, who is now spending his eternity in nearby Wisewood Cemetery.

So I was surprised when I was walking down Langsett Road a few months ago and happened to notice Jalucy. This cafe is open all afternoon, which is a good thing to know when so many lunch and coffee cafes close after lunch. Besides coffee the cafe serves sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salads, and paninis. And all espresso drinks, which you can either drink in or take away, are also available in decaf and can be made skinny -- just like in your typical Seattle coffeehouse.

And it's right on Langsett Road, with a view of the Supertram tracks and the Deep End and Mr Tse's Chinese Restaurant across the road, with Hillsborough Corner a few steps away. It's also located very close to the Hillsborough Interchange, where all those scary First Buses meet to pick up their next victims. (Sorry for the sarcasm, but you'd be a bit wary as well if you'd been run over by a bus.) Jalucy is also quite close to Morrison's, the most massive supermarket I've ever experienced -- much bigger than Von's Pavilions in Southern California, and even bigger than the seemingly boundless Larry's Market in Seattle.

When you enter Jalucy you'll find yourself in a slightly odd interior: very spacious and minimalist with a very bland beige lino floor. I sat on one of the brown sofas by the windows and gazed upon the aerosol paintings on the wall and the almost Zenlike single row of 5 houseplants by the door. The overall feeling is sort of minimalist boho meets 1980's-flat-waiting-for-removal-van-to-arrive-with-belongings emptiness. My double macchiato was served in a nice widish but pleasingly curved macchiato-sized cup properly accompanied by a demitasse spoon. The shots seemed a bit on the weak side, which was frustrating because if they'd been a bit stronger I think this would have been a very satisfying macchiato. And seeing as how this is one of the closer espresso cafes to where I live, I would definitely like it to serve a satisfying macchiato, if only to gird my loins before venturing on safari through Morrison's.

As I sat in all that beige-brown space and sipped my drink, I found myself wondering if this might be the only coffeehouse where I've had an espresso which lies directly in a former disaster area, namely the Sheffield Flood of 1864. It's in the prime location to have been washed away by the raging "Inundation" caused by the rupture of the Dale Dyke Dam above Bradfield, which flooded a large portion of 19th century Sheffield and washed at least 250 people to their deaths, along with their homes, livelihoods, and animals. Is it possible there could have been a coffeehouse on this very site back then? After all, British coffeehouses date back as far as the 17th century and served as business centres, social clubs, and post offices. Granted, most of these were in London; but why not in the industrial North as well? I can just picture all those Victorian filesmiths and table knife grinders and beerhouse keepers and pullers-out, meeting democratically on this spot to discuss life in the steel works and grinding wheels while they sip their skinny decaf hazelnut lattes...

Speaking of death and dying reminds me of a recent conversation with my Bay Area friend:

Proof there is a god? If so, a sadistic god. Saturday I noticed a large arrangement of flowers around the pedestrian crossing signal in front of Peet's coffee and across from Arizmendi bakery, where I stop nearly every morning on my way to work. This all occurred in view of Peet's customers enjoying an afternoon coffee. The nun was running. The cement truck was crawling (7 mph, according to another article). What sort of god would inflict this pain on these people?


Retired professor was jaywalking on Lakeshore when killed, cops say
By Hanna Tamrat and Susan McDonough, Staff Writers, Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND -- A Catholic nun who was a retired Holy Names University history professor was killed instantly Monday when she was hit by a cement truck while jaywalking across busy Lakeshore Avenue, police said.

The death of Sister Mary Rita Anderson, 68, in one of the city's busiest commercial districts left dozens of onlookers shaken and stunned.

Mental health workers were brought to the scene to counsel some of the witnesses, and the truck driver was so upset he was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, authorities said.

Based on witness statements, the driver will not be cited in the death, police said.

Police said Anderson was running across Lakeshore in the 3200 block at 1:23 p.m., approximately 50 feet north of a marked crosswalk, when she was hit by the truck.

Officer Wing Wong said Anderson made it across the northbound lanes -- nearly getting hit by one car -- and was at the center of the heavily traveled street.

She made it into the southbound lane but continued to concentrate on northbound traffic, Wong said.

The 26,000-pound Right Away Redy Mix cement truck driven by William Arnold, 49, of Sacramento was driving in the southbound lane, having just left a construction site on Mandana Boulevard, police said.

Wong said because the truck cab is so high, Arnold apparently did not see Anderson before striking her.

Oakland Fire Department Lt. Melinda Drayton said Anderson hit the truck nearly in the center of the vehicle's cab.

The impact pulled her under the wheels of the truck, where she was dragged and crushed, police said.

Wong said Arnold "only felt a bump, and when he looked in his mirror saw he had hit someone and immediately stopped."

Just read in yesterday's paper about Sister Marilu Covani, who was just charged in Redlands with a hit-and-run. Apparently she veered right without signalling and then made a U-turn and hit another car, pushing it into traffic (resulting in a woman's broken arm), at which point Sister Marilu left the scene of the accident. Could this be a case of Nun Rage as a result of persecution by cement trucks?