Starbucks opposite Dagenham Heathway Station | London Writing Venue Review – 1
Borough: Barking and Dagenham
Venue: Starbucks opposite Dagenham Heathway Station
(Newly opened and consequently causing a stir – “Brace yourselves, the gentry are coming!”)
Mostly brown with hints of beige. Uninspiring. Non-flamboyant. Provoking a slight ponder on Starbucks interior design decision making and what criteria plays a role in such process.
Probably the one in the far corner with a window view. Its seat is cushioned and comfortable. One of the cheap but functional armchairs – four to a similarly frugal but functional round table. There are 3 sets of these aligned along the large fronted windows separating shop from High Street. The rest of the shop’s furniture is mostly plain wood. Un-cushioned and bleak.
“All of life passes by” is an expression we use though we know it’s never true – there are no giraffes grazing by the bus stop, no Buddhist monks chanting outside Paddy Power, no dismounting cowboys tethering their rides to a lamppost before popping in to the Sense charity shop (where every item is £1). So not all of life is seen from such a vantage point but much is and hence perhaps the perspective is priceless. I watch school holiday youths boisterously scuffling outside Tesco Express. I crease my brow in wonder at the extra-large traffic cone sat mid-pavement and serving no discernible purpose. I follow the progress of a bearded man in a Bah Humbug hat with a box of value crackers under his arm. I smile at the mobility scooter determinedly overtaking a pushchair. The speedster is sporting a Christmas pudding beanie. Next up is the creased hem of a festive dress being gripped tightly in both fists to avoid an inadvertent Christmas reveal courtesy of the bright but blustery conditions. Now suddenly here’s a confident toddler in a red coat flattening his nose against the window to look in and down upon the scribing coffee sipper. And interspersed at very regular interval are the fruit n veg stuffed translucent blue carrier bags catching the glare of late December rays. Whilst all and everywhere are shopping trolley-bags. So many shopping trolley-bags. So so many. And now the realisation that this is the perfect seat to conduct a survey. A thesis even:
Pushchairs v Shopping Trolley-Bags v Motorised Scooters v Traditional Wheelchairs –
The Christmas Countdown amidst The Circle of Life.
From my vantage point I’m afforded other revelations too – I newly appreciate the extent of the slope of the street from Dagenham Heathway station toward the library. And the fact that consequently it’s a somewhat disconcerting parade of passing feet and spinning wheels either rising or descending depending on their directional intent. An array of humanity curiously out of kilter. And it’s relentless – a footfall rarely matched in any of London’s suburbs – I gain a serious sense of seas-sickness. I’m queasy. I look away. Look inside. Internalise. I look around the interior and notice the subtle art/ad on the wall to my left. It comprises some colourful lettering on the charcoal coloured wall:
‘Marked by the love for a bean’
I decide that could be a good trigger/prompt/story inspiration. Or perhaps even a poem:
Marked by the love for a bean
A scarred tongue
A swollen lip
Black coffee desire
Too hasty sip
Perhaps it wasn’t genius but it had got the juices flowing. Starbucks Dagenham Heathway was heading for a 7 out of 10.
11:40 now and it’s filling up. Families and friends and a convoy of wheeled chariots. Eyes scanning for options. Settling for a long moment on me and my four seats. I feel the hint. Accept the unsaid accusation. I close my laptop and vacate my table. Tis the season. It feels the right thing to do. The table I’ve surrendered is surrounded before I reach the door.