Chapter 2. Shoreditch Grind

11.05.2015 / 10:25


Among other things you learn after you spent more that 3 years in London is how to find the right way out on Old Street. I still haven't learnt it. And it's my fifth year.


Saturday wind had intention to steal my hat. My favorite one of a deep green moss colour with an elegant ribbon. I ran after it, swearing, - that is absolutely unacceptable how weather changes here: every 15 minutes, and often it's all together at the same time: hurricane wind and blinding sun.


Sometimes you feel like world is falling apart, - it was exactly that moment. Rushing around town, with a laptop and a camera and all my books, replacing sleep and food with work, and, eventually, reaching out to the place where you want to be. Be seen, be valued, be wanted.


Then these small disappointing things happen and you find yourself standing in a middle of a street, feeling so miserable and irrelevant that your world is shrinking. I froze for couple of moments – simply because it didn’t really make sense to me to continue to run after the hat. Or run at all. Was it even important enough to live in this rush for couple of years? Do I feel satisfaction because I made it in my field?


These worrisome thoughts were interrupted with a familiar voice.


-       Honestly, you need to take better care of this hat, it was your one of your first favorites, wasn’t it? Hi! How are you?


He simply smiled but I felt like all my tiredness is vanishing because that was something that I personally do very rarely – smile for free. Naturally, kindly and caring. Bringing the essential meaning of a smile back to its dawns.


-       You know we’ve been trying to meet up for…

-       …quite some time.

-       We should have that long-awaited coffee now.


Normally I would sigh and come up with reasonable excuse to leave. I don't do relationships of any kind. Got no time, no nerves and to be frank no need to get involved. I always found amusing and kind of scary everyone's desperate desire to not being alone, all these miserable attempts to become a part of half and later on tie person down. When do you find time and energy to become someone special and moreover remain a personality of estimated value?



There was something about this moment that made me wonder whether I could have a real conversation with no destination.


We’ve landed next to the window waiting for our coffee.

I don’t remember who started the conversation, just the unusual feeling: I didn’t need to pose or hide any expectations because I simply had none. Advocating every second, every minute to my mind it's so sweet…

He told me he is surprised how much he misses Melbourne though he has no friends down there. Pure excellence of being a part of something complete: white walls of his studio, wooden floors, flowers in vases of transparent glass, boxes and boxes of pencils. He tried to bring the same atmosphere to his studio in London but could you really ever have the same experience when you leave piece of your heart at the place where you’ve been unconditionally happy. Are you capable of building the same world you are carrying inside of you from a scratch?



He usually drinks his coffee like Eastern European would drink his vodka. That makes me smile. Every time.

I’m sipping my long black slowly. This is a moment to listen to a man. While his morning glory is in splendor. You can let this day start very quietly watching sunrays playing with his hair. He’s usually squinting, little annoyed.

And you can’t stop smiling. There’s no denying that the smell of freshly-brewed coffee in the morning is an invigorating one. However, here, next to Grind’s huge windows letting all the morning light shine in it’s tenderness, at the place where slow conversations are welcomed, you are really living the coffee momentum – perceiving the fragrant aroma, tasting a rich texture and heaviness on the tongue, with a taste that lingers.

-       You know what? That’s a great lighting!

He’s rushing to get something from a bag and meanwhile coffee cup is falling on a floor. It remains broken, unnoticed for couple of moments. Maybe that’s the most awakening thing that happened this morning. Something real has just happened. The tangible action interfered and, possibly, it’s better to leave things as they are. While they still seem perfect.

I’m putting on my hat and leaving, stopping him with a gesture against any words.

Putting on my headphones: Bloc Party – Tulips.


Wish I could swallow my pride and turn back. This could be an opportunity.


Were you unawares? Did it catch you out? Or did it break you in right from the start?


There will be dozens of beautiful cups of coffee after my 5:45 yoga class. Though will there be the same light blinding through Grind’s windows? Will I ever have the same fascination of freedom of feeling myself simply relaxed without need to question whether I’m perfect enough to win in every conversation.


After every bikram class for an hour I let myself to dive into a book. Proving my fidelity to Shoreditch Grind I’m spending this blessed hour there. Coffee required. I’m usually swallowing the book too fast because of great hunger to read something regardless work. Couple of minutes to stare at people passing by behind Grind’s windows… Honestly, just preparing myself to get back to London’s reality where I would have to put mask back on in order to win something that I’m considering the best chance.


-       Long black, right?

-       I didn’t order anything, thanks.

-       Come on, I need to stop you from leaving; I haven’t finished my sketch yet.


Feels like Venetian Snares music is floating down my veins: the explosive moment.


So that’s what being noticed feels like. Surprising, irresistible, even painful.



He’s sitting next to me, I remain silent.


-       I’m prepared today, - he is showing me eight pencils in different shades of simple coal black. – Look what a worrisome shades this light brings – it deepens the composition.


He’s moving cup to show me a sketch and spills coffee on it.


Tiny teardrop is falling down on my cheek, I will notice it later, when it’ll be removed with a cold hand with ink all over it. The sketch is simply beautiful. It’s not about a woman. It’s more a poem of appreciation to the diversity of sunlight. You can see the movements of her head and messy hair on a face; lips, open in wonder after experienced coffee taste; and eyes, seemingly insane but probably just amused.


-       It feels like I’ve remembered all of the sunsets I’ve ever seen to be able to capture you folding lips before having a sip of coffee.


This moment I’m counting how many hours it took you to work on this particular A3 sheet and how could I not notice your constant presence in SG.

I’m also counting how many times you bailed on me for very important reasons as all Londoners do.

I’m remembering how many times our paths has crossed accidentally at work events and how often we put our glasses up nodding from far because both are escorted with someone else. And you know it will remain the same – we are both on a stage. We both have estimated roles to play.

Sorry, wolf.


They put on “Tulips”. Merdes! Je vaincu!


-       This could be an opportunity, - Wolf smiles.


I’m trying to wipe coffee stain from a sketch. Doesn’t really work.


-       Seems you found a way to capture a smell I love!


There will be many doubts, smiles, morning talks, broken cups, his sketches, my books,- wonders on city’s fingertips. But one thing will remain the same. Rich chocolaty aroma of our long black at 9am at Shoreditch Grind. The very necessary thing to decorate our conversations. Perfect cup of coffee where no element predominates at the expense of another.


photos from Shoreditch Grind, The London Sinner, Robbie Polley, The London Chapter

Shoreditch Grind

213 Old Street, London EC1V 9NR

Monday - Tuesday 7am – 11pm

Friday 7am – Midnight

Saturday 8am - Midnight

Sunday 9am - 7pm

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