Thursday, March 15, 2012

Café society

click photo to enlarge
My use of cafés has increased since I took early retirement. Not to the point where I can count myself a member of café society and all that entails. However, I'm sure I've experienced more of these establishments in the past few years than I did in the previous twenty. And in so doing I've discovered that, in the main, the independent café is a place frequented by older people, and the national and international chains have customers who are somewhat younger. The last part of that judgement is made mainly on the basis of what I see as I pass by, augmented by the few occasions that I have visited one in the company of my sons.

Another observation that I have is that the older clientele of the independent cafés appear to spend more time talking than do the younger customers of the likes of Costa, Starbucks or Caffè Nero. The reason for this isn't difficult to work out: so-called smart phones have proliferated to a greater extent among the young and divert them from face-to-face human interaction. The other day I saw an extreme example of this phenomenon. Interestingly it took place in an independent café, and involved three people, one of whom could have been described as middle-aged. As we sat down I noticed that the youngest member of the trio was reading a tablet computer. As she read she took a couple of phone calls, made a couple, then eventually put her computer down and looked at her newspaper. The younger of the other two was having an intermittent conversation with the middle-aged man. It trailed off periodically because he was simultaneously prodding and stroking his smart phone. This continued for a considerable time until food arrived and a three-way conversation started up. What's so unusual about any of that I hear you say? My answer? Nothing. And that's my point. Café society, cafés as a place to sit and chat, cafés as a place to watch a unique corner of the world going by, are being transformed into just another place to experience permanent connectedness.

Today's photographs are a couple selected from my recent crop of café interiors. I liked the light, colour and shadows of the main image (we liked the excellent paninis too). On the second shot the "imperfection" and shadow writing appealed (as did the coffee and tea).

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 32mm
F No: f7.1 Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On