So what do you do when you are locked into your morning writing routine and your house gets an unexpected attack of the neighbours? The twin salvos of the noise of a Polish D.I.Y. enthusiast wielding power tools in his back garden and the not so dulcet tones of the Indian family on the other side who seem to only be able to communicate with each other through shouting. The answer was obvious, pack up the lap top, pad, pen and other scribbling accoutrements and head into town to find a place of salvation, preferably one that does decent coffee. The answer lay in a new business recently opened in Old Town called Baila, a cafe venture based on the twining of good coffee and vinyl records. What a great concept.
The combination works perfectly, a clean and modern boho-high street cafe but with the added effortless cool of a small vinyl stall. And not just any old vinyl, this is not a boot sale, no scratched copies of Bucks Fizz Greatest Hits or warped Def Leppard albums, but wonderful slices of ambient dance, hip-hop, motown and soul, garage rock and the more selective end of punk, ska and vintage mod and old school disco sounds. I should imagine that inquiries into whether they have any Robbie Williams albums would be met with polite distain. The staff are too polite to go down the whole High Fidelity route but images of Jack Black admonishing clueless and out of touch customers in a Detroit record shop would not be too out of place if that were ever to occur.
So what you end up with is a place that is inviting enough to the passing customer but with the added attraction of an underground vinyl emporium for the terminally hip, musically geeky and those that never saw the attraction of the compact disc in the first place. I for one was never convinced by Tomorrows World presenters spreading jam on discs or whacking them with hammers in an attempt to convince us of the immortality of the format.
And so I sit in the corner, double shot Americano steaming away in one hand, pen in the other, inspiration floating just out of grasp and so instead sit and observe this new environment. Yummy Mummy’s gathering to talk babies, music junkies lovingly thumbing Ray Charles albums, an older couple filling up on caffeinated shopping fuel before hitting the joys of grocery shopping, a business suit grabbing a lunch break between meetings and a smattering of Old Town, art-core types, Glastonbury fashionistas and couple of people who could easily be described in market research surveys as “the man in the street.”
Maybe not total peace and quiet but a nice break from the sounds of Polish handymen or Goan diatribes wafting into my personal space. Cool jazz, underground blues and everything in-between floated by sounding like Huey Morgans i-pod shuffle playlist. I wrote more in the couple of hours I was sat there than I had done in the previous week, sadly none of it was relevant to the job at hand, but you never know where those inspirations and thoughts triggered by the change of surroundings my end up. Inspiration is where you find it, so if good coffee and great music are your thing, rest assured that both can be found at Baila.