one day at a time…
Sunday, 04 January 2004

Pix Of The Day: Styles For Dispensing Caffeine
CREDIT: © Charles Winpenny/CornwallCAM.co.uk
WHERE: Birmingham, England. WHAT: canal and floating café/diner.
MAP: Birmingham. Thumbnail clicks pops-up larger images.

Birmingham canal © Charles WinpennyBirmingham cana cafe/diner © Charles WinpennyBirmingham, England, has more canal mileage than Venice, Italy! This narrow boat of 'The Floating Coffee Company' has been converted into what we have called a café/diner. Neither term is really valid in the UK, where the blue collar pronunciation is 'caffy' often abbreviated to 'caff'; the phenomenon of diners never happened in the UK.

Café conjures up images of elegant airy sunlit sidewalk tables, whereas the British version is indoors, dark, and steamy. Ordinary caffs, unless under Italian ownership, usually serve insipid instant coffee but good strong tea. This is fortunately changing as consumers become more discriminating about coffee. Caffs often serve good plain food, something they share with their American diner cousins, but the essential elements of the diner format are missing. Charles has provided an excellent introduction to two upcoming features, the first on caffs and the second on diners.

Birmingham is often called England's 'Second City', thought of more as a declining smoke stack manufacturing town from the Industrial Revolution than somewhere one might visit for pleasure and cultural enjoyment. It has been the butt of many unfair jokes: this Waitrose.com article starts with one, but goes on to describe some of the good places to eat and drink in the city. We do wonder if the joke tellers have ever been to Birmingham, or Brum as it is sometimes known, or are just retreading cheap jibes in the hope that they may somehow be perceived as sophisticated.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)