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Back Buzz - September 6, 2015

pumping heartMarmaduke's Cafe Deli, 22 Norfolk Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Once again I apologise for this column being so late but, as I only have a part-time job and I don't get paid for these columns, I've had to spend most of my time searching for additional work to keep afloat. But that's just Life, innit?

I grew up in Southern California with a Marmaduke -- a cartoon Great Dane, to be exact. It was a daily comic strip started back in 1954 which appeared in the Independent Press-Telegram, Long Beach's newspaper. And Marmaduke was simply a dog, not an irritating overly anthropomorphic creature like Garfield or a static symbol of angst like David Lynch's Angriest Dog In The World. "Marmaduke" wasn't exactly ironic or highbrow, but it amused me as a little child before I gained much in the way of satirical sensibilities and finesse and moved on to Pogo and beyond.

Checking out one of those baby name websites I learned that the name Marmaduke is from the Gaelic Máel Máedóc, which means "servant of St Máedóc", who was the 17th century bishop of Ferns. I suppose every plant form needs a bishop. The name first appeared in Yorkshire in the 12th century, so I suppose there were a lot of ferns back then.

Three years ago Marmaduke's Cafe Deli popped up in Norfolk Row in the former location of Twenty Two A. The first time I stopped into this seemly upmarket cafe was for a sandwich. As it was very crowded I ordered one of the deli sandwiches from the front display case for take-away, which was a good financial move, because it cost me quite a bit less than if I'd wanted to occupy one of their tables and dirty their dishes to eat it rather than costing them only the price of a takeaway paper bag. The mediterranean vegetable and cheese sandwich, I have to admit, was very tasty, although an especially oily chunk of it managed to fall off and splat into the middle of the book I was reading, defacing Page 82. So that sandwich was imprinted forever in literature.

This week I decided to visit the cafe again and splurge on sitting inside for a macchiato. As I was waiting for my drink I wondered why a macchiato, at a surprising £2.40, was the same price as a cappuccino and actually 10p more than an Americano. I mean, a plain espresso was only £2.00. Was a macchiato truly that much more effort that it costs the same as a cappuccino? Perhaps it's to cover the salary they pay for a milk-foaming professional. Or maybe the local Our Cow Molly milk is a lot more expensive than I thought.

I was excited when I saw the coffee they use for espressos, provided by the Worksop Coffee Company, is intriguingly called Cult of Done. For filter coffees they use a variety of artisan beans brewed in either a Kalita Wave or an Aeropress. So it looked like they were serious about their coffee.

When I received my macchiato, served in a nice aqua and white macchiato cup with a bell-shaped rosette and looking pretty much like any other properly served macchiato, I simply couldn't see where the premium was coming from. And the coffee seemed very sour. Was it a machine that needed cleaning? Or simply the nature of the roast? I honestly didn't enjoy it much. It was strong enough, with a good caffeine kick that lasted all day, and it was lovely to look at; but the taste left a lot to be desired. My final sip with the spoon to get the last bit of the crema proved to be sweet, which was surprising. Molly must be a very sweet cow.

As lunchtime was approaching the cafe started to fill up while I was sitting there sipping my expensive green macchiato. The sweets and pastries look nice enough, and I'm sure the sandwiches and main dishes are very good, with the bread provided by the local Welbeck Bakehouse. But unless I start to sell all of my belongings it's a bit beyond my price range.

Speaking of one's belongings reminds me of a recent e-mail exchange with my genealogical uncle:

It just hit me that your stuff is a modern cultural collection and your shit needs saving big-time. I am strung out moneywise just taking care of your uncle John's art, restoring the oldest and most fragile family photos, and conserving my arrowheads and Native American artefacts. Do not dump any slides as they can be restored by civilians (non-Photoshop experts) and don't shitcan any negatives (as I have found after throwing out dozens of both). Your Uncle Don is in Fish Purgatory for a long time as I will be in Family History Purgatory sorting out stuff unendingly (Oh Hell, I am already there. Maybe I will get credit for time already served!) I wouldn't actually dump any of the original tangible photos, as I don't have such faith in digital technology that I believe everything in the world can be changed to 0s and 1s. I recently spent an afternoon at the pub arguing with a friend who spends more time than I could imagine either playing Warframe online or Googling any subject on his iPhone that anybody around him might be talking about so that he can be the instant expert on the subject. He was arguing that handwriting shouldn't be taught to kids anymore because they can use keyboards instead. Is my new calling in life to save the world from digital blindness and ignorance, or have I simply becoming a grumpy old lady?

I don't know if I still have any negatives. I do try to get rid of the negatives in my life ;-) I have plenty of scannable positives, though.

How many arrowheads do you have? I've only got digital ones, like ^ and ^. I suppose I should start learning how to play Warframe.

Your Grumpy Old Niece My new goal in life is to be a cursive scannable positive!