Rendezvous in the RVP


‘Same old, same old’. Thus has gone the brief exchange of e-mail nearly every Wednesday for two years to arrange my rendezvous with my old friend Nick. We meet at the end of the precinct, between Café Nero and The Body Shop. Stage two of this well-rehearsed meeting sees us head for Seattle Expresso, for a well-deserved, civilized escape from our nine-to-five jobs.

Situated in the Royal Victoria Place shopping mall, between BHS and M&S, in the shelter of the escalator and stairs, the coffee shop has two seating areas--one by the counter for smokers and the other, across the passageway, for non-smokers like us.

‘A regular cap and a cup of tea. In China cups, please’--it’s always £2.40, we always try to drop about 10p into the tip jar and they always tell us to ‘take a seat and we’ll bring it right over’. And in that single sentence we’ve hit upon the two factors that make this the best coffee emporium this side of the war memorial. You can have your drink in a proper cup and saucer, not have chew on a piece of old cardboard, and the waitresses will bring it to you when it’s ready. Surely it’s not too much to ask, when you’ve spent a morning stuck behind a desk doing some mind-numbing job or another and you’re trying to make the most of the 60 minute break your boss has grudgingly allowed you in the middle of the day, to have someone wait on you--however briefly. And it doesn’t hurt that the young ladies who work there tend to be quite easy on the eye, as well as pleasant and chatty. Never has a 10p tip been so justly deserved.

We like to sit at one of the tables on the far side of the non-smoking section, with our backs to the wall, if possible--affording ourselves the best view of the people walking through the mall, or queuing to buy their own drinks. While we put the world to rights, discussing love, work, politics, pop music, cinema or TV, we can keep an eye on the passing talent. The cream on our coffee those Wednesday lunchtimes is the appreciative inspection of the high calibre of office girls, shop workers and young mums that Tunbridge Wells has to offer.
Now that’s civilization.
Tim Knight, 35
Tunbridge Wells
Public relations