Cafe Ole, Lost Lectures, Fleetwood Mac and giving up dating

3 Feb

EAT: A cafe under a Travelodge doesn’t exactly sound like the most appealing place in the world. A cafe under a Travelodge in Clapham Junction? Even less so. I live near Battersea Square and on the square there’s a nice enough, overpriced, bit ‘blah’ Italian Restaurant. The cafe I’m reviewing today is the latest venture (don’t worry, the rest of the review isn’t quite this depressing).

Cafe Ole sits opposite the station and under a Travelodge. The name is misleading – it’s not a Spanish cafe. It’s got a Spanish name, Brazillian and Italian decorations and a huge range of baguettes (French), salads, brunch and breakfast (English) options and lovely desserts (various). So it’s having an identity crisis. It’s fallen into the ‘Bills’ trap: most cafes today are all adopting the same kind of decor, and it’s essentially a copy of what Bills cafe chains nailed years ago.


However, the food and value for money is surprisingly good. I went for the salami, mozzarella, tomato and basil panini with salad (£4.60) and my friend had the goats cheese, caramalised onion and aubergine panini (£4.80). They also do an all day breakfast, all day brunch and offer around 20 fillings which you can have in a ciabatta, baguette or panini.

photo 1(2) photo 2(1)

My friend and I resisted the desserts but they look genuinely great. The chocolate orange chart wafted past us on the way to someone else and I pretty much immediately fell in love. And they had really yummy looking cheesecake on a rotating thing – spinning cheesecake is the BEST. And the desserts are all less than £3?! My friend gave into her sweet tooth and had a hot chocolate which she said was lovely.

The service was fast, pleasant and the food was tasty and very good value for money. The setting is nice enough (once you forget you’re opposite a station and under a Travelodge) and it’s a great place for a quick bite. Not date/fancy meal material, but if you’re hitting the shops, head here for lunch. Or: if you’re doing the walk of shame AFTER a date (we’ve all been there) then go here for breakfast.

SEE:  Most people my age will think of GCSE English when they hear the name ‘Carol Ann Duffy‘. I remember as a 15-year-old I absolutely adored Duffy’s work – her poem ‘Education for Leisure’ is still a piece I love and rate as one of my favourite poems.


So, when I found out that Lost Lectures were hosting a poetry reading with the lady herself, I was overjoyed when I happened to be on Twitter when they tweeted about a handful of return tickets going on last-minute sale. For £15 I was treated to free wine and an hour of the Poet Laureate.

The reading was held in Selfridges and it was a TERRIBLE venue choice. The whole time Duffy was speaking the clatter of cutlery from the cafe outside, kids shouting and heels clapping could be heard. It’s awful that more thought wasn’t put into the venue. Luckily, it didn’t ruin the experience, but I’m surprised as Lost Lectures usually take pride in their venue choices.

Anyway. Duffy came on stage and immediately started talking about her love of Greek Mythology, putting her poetry into context and illustrating her early work even further. She loves not only Greek myths, but Shakespeare and clearly had a close and complicated relationship with her mother. She’s very left-wing – she made numerous digs at Clegg, Cameron, Thatcher and the coalition government in general.

She also told a great story. During a GCSE exam, a moderator was wandering up and down the rows, and she read, over a student’s shoulder, ‘Education for Leisure’. The poem is pro-education and speaks out about settling for dole money as your sole source of income. Surely something good to teach kids, right? The moderator only saw just past the end of her nose and read the final line of the poem, which references a knife.

That moderator got in touch with her MP and complained about the fact this poem was being taught to children. The MP took it to the exam board and after pressure from numerous MPs, Education for Leisure was removed from the syllabus. Duffy knew nothing about this chain of events until a newspaper asked her to comment. Understandably pissed (after all, the poem is pro-education) she decided to write a poem about the situation. She retaliated by evoking imagery from Shakespearean plays – cutting a pound of flesh to pay a debt in the Merchant of Venice and numerous other violent Shakespearean deaths – making the point: why is Shakespeare fine, but Duffy not?

The session was great: Duffy is funny, liberal, tongue in cheek and takes her status as GCSE poetry don and Poet Laureate with a pinch of salt. Below you’ll find the much-referenced Education for Leisure. Enjoy. Especially the line “they don’t appreciate my autograph“. Genius.

 Education for Leisure – Carol Ann Duffy

Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.

I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.

I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.

I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.

There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.

LISTEN: I’m going through SUCH a Fleetwood Mac phase at the moment. I say ‘phase’ – I’ve always loved them, ever since Dad put Rumours on and I heard the guitar opening to The Chain.

If you haven’t heard ‘Rumours’… well, you actually have. Nearly every song on the album is incredibly famous and they’re the kind of songs you know by heart, but perhaps never realised who created them.

The song below isn’t actually from Rumours. It’s from a Fleetwood Mac album called Tango in the Night. It’s a wonderful song and one which holds very dear memories for me. Listen and love.

LOVE: I have decided that I cannot be bothered dating anymore. The messages I receive on dating sites are becoming increasingly forgettable. The people I arrange to go on dates with are becoming increasingly flaky. And as much fun as I have on the dates, I actually just want someone who I can call up and convince to come with me to various fun things going on in London. Also, because dating at the moment is making me feel like this:

What I’ve realised is dating is a very time-consuming and expensive way to get that person. Making a new friend? Not so much. I’m great at dates. I don’t get nervous, have lots to chat about and I’ve nailed my fake laugh and I know how to reign in my real life (I’m loud, so loud it’s sometimes scary).

I basically just need to increase my friendship circle. All of my close friends in London are in relationships, so they don’t have time for me anymore. Essentially, I either need to get a boyfriend or get some more single friends. So, I’ve decided I’m going to get more single friends. Making new friends also means I won’t have to think of fun date ideas. I won’t have to dress up. I can wear CONVERSE, not heels, when I meet them.

Backing out of trying to find a date, and instead trying to make new friends, just sounds better and better. I’m going to be more social outside of work, join clubs, meet like-minded people and just get out there. Hopefully, then, I’ll have a list of people I can call up when I want to grab a bite to eat, visit a museum, go ice skating or drink cider in the park or go to some speakeasy pop up club.

So. Anyone wanna join me? Only single women and men may apply.


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