Susan Morrison: Shaggy-faced coffee hipsters java lot to learn

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Hark! What is that sound of weeping and calamitous wailing we hear? Why fear not, good people, it is merely the sound of the marketing department of Wilkinson Sword howling despairingly into their low sodium decaf soya machiatto.

The sales are down. No-one is buying the proudly named blades any more. The world has gone beardy.

Young men these days (yes, I know what that sounds like) have gone fuzzy. There are times when it looks like Black Jack Barton, Terror of The Grizzlies, has swung into town to meet up with Red Bob Baker, the great bearded West Highland Midgie Mangler, to take in the artisan coffee in a funky little java joint that used to be an undertakers. Look! You can still make out the shape of the coffins on the floor!

The greater bearded hipster may look like the sort of beast that used to down the berserker brew that fuelled York-sacking Vikings, but he is in fact far more serious about his coffee. And they act like they invented the stuff.

These boys are naught but popinjays when it comes to coffee. I stand (shaking slightly) here as a veteran of coffee wars older than their beards.

Why, I recall the brown sludge served about CalMac ferries drawn directly from some sump under the pistons.

To this day I have horrifying flashbacks of mugs of Mellow Birds served in student flats, own brand instant in polystyrene cups handed out at corporate workshops and the strange stuff that squirted out of the office vending machine.

They used to powder coffee. Why, I have no idea, since the minute hot water hit the dust, a foul smelling plume rose like the reeking fusty curse you’d imagine issuing from a fissure cracked open by questing archaeologists in the door of the tomb of something long dead, such as Jim Murphy’s career.

Combine that brown powder with UHT milk and you’ve got yourself a taste sensation right up there alongside biting down on foil with your two back fillings.

But oh my bearded hipster friends, you may know how to serve your java hot, but take it from this battle hardened caffeine warrior, at least Littlewoods served its putrid brew with little sound but the twitter of surrounding shoppers and regular tannoy announcements of lost children and special offers.

Conversations were possible in a normal speaking tone, not hollered over the vintage recordings of the only bluegrass band from Virginia who couldn’t hold a note.

Beardy busker within whisker of a telling-off

Glasgow was pulling a blinder a few days ago. The sun was blazing, heat shimmered from the pavement, and people were sitting out eating and drinking in a veritable Continental manner.

There was the light babble of conversation as friends greeted friends. There was the sound of wine bottles clicking against the glasses.

It was positively civilised until this busker – a busker, I tell you – rocked up with an electric guitar, and started belting out some sub-Clapton claptrap at Concorde volume, thus drowning every conversation within a half-mile radius. And he had a beard.

Seriously, will you all just put your music selections away and let us chat?

Suffering pains and needles

For some weeks now we in the People’s Republic of Leith have had a serious case of the roadworks which to be honest, we needed.

The Fit o’ the Walk was in dire need of a bit of a revamp, and as for the Kirkgate, well, there’s good public art and there’s bad public art and then there’s the giant needle. Which has vanished.

Well, this is Leith, after all, and things left unattended have a habit of taking a wander. To be honest, I don’t think anyone is looking for it but just be aware if someone tries to palm you off with an unusual garden ornament.