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Back Buzz - October 27, 2012

pumping heartDeli Quattro, 22 Snig Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

It was a cold and foggy autumn morning when I ventured into unexplored territory in search of a new coffee experience. The fog was more of a consommé than a pea soup, yet I still ventured cautiously, on the alert for wayward croutons, the eerily distant howls of hounds causing the hairs on my neck to tremble. A friend of a friend who works in rehab had recommended a deli surrounded by the city's courts and main police station. I trudged by the Cathedral, its steeple thrusted staunchly through the fog, and then Castle Market, where the food traders were busy touting portable lunches to hungry office workers. After stealing myself past the giant brick mural of a steelworker, I found myself on Snig Hill named, some think, for the old Saxon word for eel but more likely named for the brake used to prevent carts from running away on steep hills. The word is also a version of snick or snicket, which means a narrow passageway or ginnel, which this dual carriageway didn't particularly suggest.

With my scarf fastened securely around my neck I opened a door and found myself stepping out of a badly written noir novel and into Deli Quattro. This pleasantly cosy cafe has clean white walls, simple geometric art on the walls, tables and chairs in black and white and silver, and there is more seating downstairs. The menu is typical for a deli cafe: traditional sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes, salads, and cakes, and Cafe Brönte biscuits are advertised.

My single macchiato was very smooth and pleasant. It seemed a tiny bit on the weak side and could have had a bit more oomph!, but the barista misunderstood my order of a "double", so perhaps two shots would have turned out stronger. But at an impressive £1.00 for this pretty little drink, served in an espresso-sized cylindrical white cup, I could easily afford another shot somewhere else this afternoon if I felt the need for it.

Peering into the murky crema and then out from my window seat at the foggy morning, I felt again as if I were in a mystery. I could see Peel House and the probation office directly opposite, with the Magistrates Court just beyond. Had there been a murder this morning? Perhaps a new Ripper of some sort? Perhaps the tragic result of a passionate moor tale spun by one of the Brönte sisters? Or was I merely dreaming, perhaps having fallen into a light misty slumber as a result of my caffeine need? Was I writing about Deli Quattro or about life, intrigue, and the vagaries of our peccadillos?

"Tuna mayo salad!" shouted the lady behind the counter, rousing me to the fact that it was close to lunchtime and a group of suited solicitor types had just entered. My thoughts suddenly veered to wondering where the reference to the number four comes from in the name of the cafe. (I still haven't a clue.)

As I finished my tubularly classy little macchiato, I contemplated my walk to work from here, comforted in the knowledge that, should I be attacked by any werewolves or strangers, the police department was close by.

Speaking of fantasy realities reminds me of an e-mail exchange from last spring with a workmate in Sheffield about my recent visit to California:

Ahoy and thar she blows! Yo-ho-ho and a pint of Point The Way IPA!

Long time no speakie, me wee laddie! I've been off on a voyage to find the West Indies. They be mighty eerie, with boulevards as wide as continents and palm trees as exotic as electric showers! I learned of a mighty fine drink called the margarita which, if you dare quaff too many, makes you dance the Hat Dance of the Mexicanos. I visited a host of what these strange drawling Natives call "broopubbs", accounts of which will gradually appear in my handwritten diary, Tales of the Pleasures of Pints. With my Bayarea companion Mistah Rick, as we explored the mystic lands of Forest Lawn Glendale and Hollywood Forever I danced on a number of famous dead men's graves, as well as famous dead women's graves, and even a famous dead dog's grave (Terry, who played Toto). And we witnessed the industrial archaeology of what they call El Pueblo Nuestra Senora La Reina De Los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. Arrrrr, there be photogenic sites in them thar hills!

And how ye be on the fine frigate Library II? Blip; blip; bdoiiiiing!

Blip; blip; bdoiiiiing!

I'm having to keep very quiet. After the sinking of the fine frigate Library II, the name was redesignated to one of our latest Learning Centre Class nuclear submarines and we are currently resting on the bed of the Porter Brook beneath a flotilla of enemy destroyers. Too much keyboard clatter might alert them to our presence and I'm not sure we can withstand another volley of depth-charges until the refit next year. We were able to weather the Great Post-Easter Rush following a successful attack on Library I where we pressganged a number of their shelvers into our service. For the first time in known memory the books didn't hit the floor, in spite of our reduced sorting area. This success will be remembered by our people for generations to come.

Your findings in the West Indies are intriguing. We shall immediately deploy a fleet of the West India Company to make trade with these Natives that their margaritas may be traded for our books and journals. Did Terry play all of Toto or just the lead singer with the Arquette obsession? I look forward to seeing your photographic survey of the area and reading your accounts of the broopubbs.

Since we landed here on the sea bed the workload has reduced to nought. It's very very quiet again. I notice a pattern here, and cannot help but wonder if your presence at Library I steals away all our students. Maybe your helpful manner is so well regarded that everyone makes their book transactions there, placing holds that they might commune with this notorious staff member. Perhaps if you were buried at Library II we might have a constant stream of custom here.

It's getting hot here. I think there may be a problem with the reactor. Perhaps it will soon be safe for us to surface once more and make our necessary repairs. Until then...