Monday, 6 October 2008

Incidental

It's just after eight in the morning and I'm drinking coffee in a small, cheerfully unpretentious cafe in an industrial area of Darlaston, in the Black Country. I'm picking a car up from an auction compound nearby and am waiting for the collection details to be sent through to me.

The only other customers are a group of three burly, short-haired guys sitting mainly in silence. One or two tables are still strewn with used plates and cups, suggesting that the breakfast rush has already been and gone. The two female staff occasionally appear behind the counter before bustling back into the kitchen.

A local radio station is on in the background, but does nothing to capture my attention until the traffic news comes on. The reporter announces that there is a police incident in Bentley Road in Darlaston. This is literally just around the corner.

I look at the guys on the other table but they give no reaction. Maybe they don't share my childlike (or childish) excitement at finding myself on the doorstep of anything newsworthy, or maybe it's too early in the morning for animated conversation, but I would have expected at least one of them to raise an eyebrow or make a passing remark. The young woman currently behind the counter also gives no sign that she has heard.

The reporter goes on to warn of long delays on the roads and on public transport in the whole area, but she may as well be talking to herself.

The news finishes, and I would normally now begin to think of alternative routes away from here for when I collect the car. But I seem to be caught up in the general indifference and find myself drifting away into other thoughts. Whatever the incident involved, even if the whole of the West Midlands needs to know about it, sitting here cocooned in this cosy cafe it all seems just too far away.

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