Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tea but No Sympathy

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tea but No Sympathy

Article excerpt

Byline: GARY BAINBRIDGE One man's struggle with the 21st century

IWENT to a festival in another city. I don't want to say which city, but, basically, while I didn't need a passport to visit it, I might need one next time. However I will attempt to describe the intensity of the festival according to what I, possibly egomaniacally, have dubbed the Bainbridge Scale of Festival Intensity. If Brazilian Mardi Gras is a "10", and your local church harvest festival is a "one", this was a "six" or "seven".

I had never been to this festival before and found it busy and noisy, with a greater concentration of Londoners than London. Even so, I had a whale of a time watching stars being born and jugglers plying their niche trade.

But age and the hilliness of this city had worn me down. It is not clear why somebody thought terrain reminiscent of an upturned egg-box a suitable site for a city, handsome though the results turned out.

Perhaps the town planner really loved drawing contour lines and had a big bottle of ink.

In any case, I needed a sit-down and some tea. I had bumped into my playwright friend Rose and asked her to join me. This was probably a mistake - the last time I saw Rose was at a performance of one of her plays in Salford. I arrived late, pushed a young couple into an alcove by accident, and was humiliatingly led across the stage to my seat by the actual director of the play. Rose is clearly a jinx.

We walked into one of those "character" coffee shops, with exposed brickwork, a bar with high stools for people who like to go to coffee shops on their own and aren't quite uncomfortable enough about it, and beards - so many beards. If there had been a row of parking spaces for penny farthings out at the back, I wouldn't have been at all surprised.

But it did not need this stuff. All it needed was a sign in the window saying "World's Most Unnecessarily Complicated Coffee Shop" and the tourists would have flocked in.

The ordering system was like a cross between Nando's and The Krypton Factor. The wall was filled with permutations of orders, like the periodic table of coffee. There were six different types of tea, and I couldn't see which one was real tea because I wear glasses and they'd used a trendy unreadable font. …

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