Saturday afternoons in 1975-1976 used to be spent sat in the corner of a cafe in Torquay. How it made much money was a mystery, it was never full and seemed content to allow the three of us to sit for an hour at the corner table with our 5p cups of coffee. There was a gaming machine next to the table, still referred to as a one-armed bandit in those days, and we would feed the odd 2p piece into it. Our stay in the cafe must have brought the owner a grand total of 25p, before we wandered down into the town to look at records we couldn’t afford in W H Smith’s. I was a rustic, but my two friends were from the Midlands, they came from big towns and knew far more of the world than I ever would.
By the summer of 1976 I was 15 going on 16 and wasn’t averse to the odd pint. Not really having acquired a taste for beer, I would drink a foul combination of lager and blackcurrant, a drink served in bars in the little town in Devon where we went for our holidays, a drink I had not seen before, and mercifully have not seen since. By the time I was 18, the taste in drink had got even worse, I would drink vodka and lime cordial.
Of course, at the time we thought all we did was the height of sophistication! Sitting in cafes over cups of coffee; drinking polluted lager while the locals drank their flat pints of bitter; throwing back miniscule quantities of green-coloured liquid; this was us being cool, or trying to be.
We hadn’t a clue.
Our children attend a school where most of the students are boarders, so once a month there is a long weekend. Today, our daughter, who is fourteen, went out with friends from the United States for the afternoon. Their outing was to a big shopping centre in south Dublin. It is not the sort of place where I would have coped, when you ask for a coffee now, they ask “what sort?” The only record shop I feel secure in now is in the city centre; far from the out of town malls.
“Had you a nice afternoon?” I asked at the evening meal.
“Yes”, she said. “We went to a sushi bar”.
She did try to explain how it worked, and how the plates were colour-coded, and how there were options that were not raw fish, but it was all too much.
I suddenly realized that the world and I had parted company.Oh for the days of 5p cups of coffee.
I wonder in 30 years time how she will remember the sushi bar.