BB King is twanging in the ceiling, largely drowned out by the chatter of customers, the clatter of the kitchen, and the hum of extractor fans over the ovens. The hooting laughter from an elderly couple in the corner, lubricated by a bottle of red and another of white, punctuate the din. Chairs scrape. A Lebanese behind the counter shouts in good humour to a man who struggles with his English too – he has been here eight weeks, fled from a Swedish winter. They both struggle with their English and shout in increasingly loud tones to make each other understand – it is a common mistake. A Korean family I recognise (they live around the corner from us) come in and order pita bread. It is misunderstood and a serve of chips is dished up instead. The eight year old Korean son is delighted, the parents laugh and try again, this time emphatically pointing at what they want. And raising their voices.From behind me the waitress strikes up with two guys eating pizza.’How is your new job?’Good, no, yeah, good.”You brothers?”Yeah”You look alike.'(Laughing) ‘Yeah, too much”You ordered?”Yes, yes’.A Chinese lady stands on tip toes and demands a pizza, order phoned through earlier. The BBQ sizzles, BB King has given over to the Pointer Sisters, the old couple in the corner top up their glasses and laugh out loud at jokes only they have heard. While she laughs he sneaks some food off her plate. And repeats the trick again when she is drinking her wine, eyes closed in satisfaction.Something needs to give – writing a book review in here is impossible. There is too much going on which is endlessly fascinating. Too much common humanity, exotic in all its diversity. I yield completely to things mellow and reflective when Nina Simone breaks through it all.’I want a little sugar in my bowl, I want a little sweetness down in my soul…”Don’t we all.
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