chapter  3
22 Pages

The art of sitting

Nick’s Caff is a small meeting place in a large and rapidly changing city. Within the interior off the street, experiences of belonging span from the vast distance of global migrations into London, down to which table regular customers feel comfortable to sit at. Those who occupy the tables in Nick’s Caff include the remnants of a white working-class neighbourhood alongside first, second and third generations of immigrants. Together they offer us a view of the impact of global change on local life. In Nick’s Caff the ‘foreigner’ and ‘local’ sit literally and conceptually at the same table: both are migrants of a sort by the sheer force of profound change. The first migrant is one displaced from a familiar sense of place or culture by virtue of distance; the émigré who has travelled away from one place to another, usually in pursuit of better prospects. Nick’s father emigrated from Cyprus to London in the 1950s. After working his way up in restaurant kitchens, Nick’s father bought a caff off the Walworth Road, and named it The Bosphorus in homage to a cultural homeland elsewhere. Since the 1960s the Caff and flat above it has served as Nick’s family home and workplace.