Café Tabac, Bold Street, Liverpool.
Anyone knowing this address is likely to turn a little smile.
This café is a hinge on which the world turns. I have drunk more coffee in here than probably all other cafés in the world put together. I have had first dates in here, started bands, started revolutions, ended wars and made world peace, I have met a friend here for the last time before he took his own life. Sat there with his mother; Met strangers who became friends on the first day of university, and are friends still. I’ve also probably drawn more pictures on its tables than anywhere else too.
It’s not the best café by a long shot, but its location… it’s simply a pivot on which a certain aspect of Liverpool life is hinged.
You finish up a mad shop in town and need to escape. You climb Bold Street, aiming for the bombed out church. Last on the right and there it is. In the winter, steamed up windows. Open that door and there’s bound to be someone you know in there. If not, in a few minutes, there’ll be a cold blast and in will come people you know with that ‘I can’t believe I survived shopping in town’ face you had just now.
Café Tabac has been done up and made over. To be fair, it looked the same for nearly twenty years.
The ‘new’ Café Tabac has lost some of its warmth. By that, I mean the stickiest cork topped tables anywhere. There’s something a little bit half finished about the décor now, it’s faux something, but you can’t tell what. Uncool Retro. I don’t mean to be unkind.
It’s still nice sitting in there with friends, wincing at the modern prices and choosing only drinks. It used to be pretty competitive and brisk in trade. They seem to prefer pricing at a point where it never really fills up any more. The coffee is a bit too good now, too.
But it’s still got something, and it is always somewhere I’ll visit when I go to Liverpool.