Black Crow Cafe, South Farm Road
The barista’s tattoos are beautifully done – multi-coloured swoops and curls of dramatic shapes. It makes you a bit dizzy to look at them as you sideways-squint, trying to make out the images, trying not to be too stare-bear, while she focuses on not getting scalded by the heavyweight high-end machine. She looks up and catches you looking a bit too intensely. You smoothe it over by asking what the dreamy chilled sounds are that are coming out of the ipod – there’s always something interesting playing in this place. ‘Blackwood’, she tells you, ‘they’re really good’. They bloody are, too. While you drink your decaff soya-flat-white (a tricky order, with curdling a risk successfully avoided here), you eavesdrop one conversation about the lineup at an upcoming music festival and another one about last Saturday night, which now only exists as a sozzled text and snapchat trail currently being reconstructed over a soothing pot of earl grey by the puzzled protagonists. You launch a group conversation by first asking the bearded guy at the end of the bar – the one who is sitting with a body language suggestive of openness to conversation:- “Is Worthing the New Brighton? Yes or No, and why?” Yes yes yes yes yes. (“People laughed at us for moving here. Now they’re getting it.” “We’ve got quality of life and it all costs less.” “£3.50 for a pint of good craft beer at the Brooksteed – what would that be in Brighton?!” “Small business rates are low and will stay low for a while”. “It’s gentrifying fast”).