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Back Buzz - April 20, 2011

pumping heartUrban Deli, The Chimes, Campo Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

A few years ago a coffee-loving friend suggested a place for espresso in Sheffield that was "somewhere near the Cathedral", but they couldn't remember exactly where or even what the name of the place was. Recently another person I know, when she found out I write about coffee, mentioned her favourite place for espresso. She couldn't remember the name, either, but she told me it was on Campo Lane behind the Sheffield Cathedral. The next morning I grabbed my pipe, donned my deerstalker cap, and sat down at my laptop to Google these few clues I had. And using my powers of logic I determined that the place in question was Urban Deli. Elementary.

Last week before work I stopped into Castle Market, and as Campo Lane isn't far from there I decided to try out Urban Deli. Located down the road a bit from the Cathedral's rear walls, the corner cafe is situated directly across from the Croft Buildings. On one side of the cafe is a takeaway counter stocked with sandwich makings, deli items, and an olive bar, and to the right beyond the espresso and cake counter are tables and booths. I ordered a single macchiato and a sandwich and sat at a window table. I'm really looking forward to this, I thought as I did a quick visual scan of the items on a display shelf near me: tins of Yorkshire Crisps, jars of chutneys and deli treats, and gourmet teas. On my table was a menu featuring all kinds of sandwiches, salads, and weekday breakfast items as well as a Saturday brunch.

coffeebreak

My macchiato was strong and robust and zippy and nearly yelling at me. In other words, it was everything one wants from a single macchiato. It was served properly as well, in a white china single-macchiato-sized cup with demitasse spoon. My "Mad Greek" sandwich consisted of foccacia bread with tasteful amounts of houmus, feta, avocado, and tomato, and it was accompanied by a very nice salad of mixed greens with a delicious dressing. Although it cost twice as much as the maximum I'd normally pay for a sandwich I was happy because, after all, I usually pack my lunch and I deserve a splurge now and then. Fortunately the macchiato was more reasonably priced at £1.50.

As I dined on my treat the cafe started to fill up with suits, most of them probably legal types, as the cafe is just down the road from the solicitor-popular Wig & Pen Pub and around the corner from Paradise Square, its offices populated with solicitors and estate agents. Most of the suits were ordering food to take away, which is probably the way to go because it's much cheaper that way. Even solicitors like to save money.

The walls of the cafe are covered with graphic-style paintings of "urban" people, and there is a coin-operated elephant ride in the corner for the enjoyment of children -- or adults like me, as I've been known to take the occasional coin-operated ride. After all, you only live once. But I didn't succumb this time, amusing myself instead with my curved window view offering a distorted perspective westward down Campo Lane. It made me want to sit here and paint. I began to fantasize about stopping in every lunchtime with my canvas, easel, oils, and of course my trusty paint-spattered beret; but alas, I don't get paid for my fantasies so I had to get off to my non-artistic job.

coffeebreak

Speaking of finding new haunts reminds me of a recent e-mail conversation with a workmate about haunting:





DATE: 16 MARCH 2011
TO: CRAVEN
FROM: JC

I'm hoping to visit Carbrook Hall this weekend. Having just read about Carbrook Hall I learned it was the residence of John Bright, who is now the ghost that haunts the pub.

I remember a few years ago when my friend Trevor was interested in applying for the position of Pope, and as I was looking for work at that time he suggested we could do a job-share Popery thing. But then I got the University job, which probably didn't pay as much but it meant I didn't have to travel.

So how does one apply for the position of Ghost? I'm interested, especially if the hours were in the morning so I could haunt a stately home or old pub in the morning before my shift at the university. Would I have to become a Goth or at least an Emo before applying? I've already got some black lipstick and nail polish.


DATE: 16 MARCH 2011
TO: JC
FROM: CRAVEN

This was just posted, so I thought you might be interested:

"Vacancy Statement: Library Haunting Practitioner Position

Position Type: 16 hours per week / initial 1-year contract, with possible extension. Regular evening and night duties.

Specialisms: Transparency; clamminess; uncanniness; historical insight
Salary: Approx. � 18,172 p.a. (excluding benefits), based on experience and qualifications. Christmas Eve / Christmas Day at double-pay.
Closing date: 12 April 2011

We are seeking an enthusiastic and apparitional applicant for the newly created role of Haunting Practitioner.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the workings of the afterlife and develop skills in haunting and maintaining an atmosphere of indefinable otherness. You will be conducting daily hauntings throughout the Learning Centre, frightening students and lending an air of existential continuity to the learning environment.

You will have experience in gentle unearthly moaning, have skills in sheet-waving, chain-rattling and passing through walls, and have a good standard of written communication. Experience of a library setting is desirable. Practical experience of spirit work and standard ghostly procedures is also advantageous. You will have good team working skills and be able to work on your own initiative. An appropriate training programme will be provided. The role involves long periods of insubstantiality, and the successful applicant will be required to dress in appropriate period costume (as negotiated with the department) at his/her own expense.

Jobshare applicants welcome."

Doesn't look like you need to become a Goth, though I expect it would help in your interview if you Helena Bonham-Cartered up a bit. The black lipstick and nail polish would probably be a good move in that regard.

If it weren't for having my dissertation to do over the summer I think I might consider applying; though I'm not sure about the evening/night work or having to go in over Christmas. It's not really very clear from the above description as to what you're actually supposed to do. Messing up the shelves perhaps.

Good luck with it all, and watch out for exorcists.







DATE: 24 MARCH 2011
TO: CRAVEN
FROM: JC

I wonder if you could look over my Person Spec for this job quickly:

"TRANSPARENCY: I have a lot of experience being transparent, especially in my youth when I would regularly fade into the background. Although I spent a lot of my adulthood "out front" I have become proficient with Photoshop and can make myself as opaque or transparent as required.

CLAMMINESS: Having grown up in Southern California I spent a lot of hot summers days with clammy hands. For the past year I have been sleeping under a winter-tog duvet and have found it necessary to become clammy.

UNCANNINESS: I can demonstrate many areas of uncanniness in my life. For instance, isn't it uncanny how as a highly educated and experienced person with two decades as a senior scientific programmer and web designer I somehow ended up hauling Textbooks of Pain for peanuts? Isn't it uncanny how the Guardian has not asked me to be a columnist for them? Isn't it uncanny how quickly time seems to pass these days? Isn't it uncanny how when you stare at a blue square on a white background for a minute and then look away, you see a red square on a black background? Have I shown you my rope trick?

HISTORICAL INSIGHT: I have a lot of experience with historical insight. I am currently reading a history of Sheffield for my own pleasure, and I regularly look up the history of a village or a pub that I am writing about. I am fairly historical myself.

HAUNTING: I have haunted many places in both my professional and personal life. Currently I haunt the espresso bars around the University and also my local pub. Prior to my local I was haunting another neighbourhood pub, and before I moved to Sheffield I haunted a pub in Folkestone. In Seattle I haunted a coffee house in Lower Queen Anne, and in California I haunted another coffee house in Long Beach as well as a pub in Seal Beach. As the soles of my shoes are usually rubber, I am very adept at sneaking up behind people and scaring the bejesus out of them.

INSUBSTANTIALITY: Although I have no direct experience with insubstantiality I do have a lot of experience with metaphor and simile, as evidenced by my entire life which has been a series of roller coaster rides through ecstasy mixed with deep declines into the abyss of despair, along with some moments as ordinary and predictable as Gordon Brown's suit wardrobe. I strongly believe that the customer is always right and not unlike a wombat with urgent needs.

EXISTENTIAL CONTINUITY: I have a lot of experience with the continuing existentiality of life, but it's not worth my time expanding on this subject because of the meaninglessness of existence.

I am very flexible as to my schedule, just as long as it's after dark, as I have daytime commitments with a coffin.

Yours truly,
JC Bonham-Mitchell


DATE: 24 March 2011
TO: JC
FROM: CRAVEN

It all looks ok to me; perhaps avoid the sentence "roller coaster rides through ecstasy" which might make the panel assume you've had a drug problem. Other than that it all looks in order. Good luck with the application!







DATE: 13 APRIL 2011
TO: CRAVEN
FROM: JC

Well, I didn't get the Haunting position, so I'm a bit depressed about that. But I'm wearing my new End of the World-design earrings today, possibly because I sensed that the floor on which I'm working would resemble exactly that. And it reeks like the end of the world as well, when all bathing facilities have been wiped out by massive global earthquakes.

I shall leave you now, for life is one big cha-cha-cha.


DATE: 13 APRIL 2011
TO: JC
FROM: CRAVEN

Hope the End of the World goes well! Enjoy your cha---