Our wee routine

There’s something different about a Saturday morning.

It’s nothing tangible, just a feeling, a sense, a lightness in your being and touch. And, I think, it’s universal, affecting adults and kids.

Without any planning my son and I have developed our wee Saturday morning routine. We wake early, lounge around for a couple of hours and then, at exactly 8:45am, we head to our favourite little cafe in the village.

It’s usually the two of us because mummy is either working, at a fitness class or just fancies a lie-in. Sometimes she meets us there later and completes the circle.

But my son and I like to arrive just as the front door is being unlocked. I hold his hand and we always go to the same table and sit in the same spot. The waitress brings us menus and chats for a moment or two about the weather. Then I’ll read aloud all the items on the kids’ breakfast menu and he’ll always pick the same thing – two rounds of toast and two sausages. I’ll agonise over whether to have a bowl of porridge or a fry. Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m not. 

The cafe is nothing fancy and is probably not even the best in our village. But it’s where we feel most comfortable and where the sound system plays 1980s anthems first thing on a Saturday morning. My son and I both call it ‘Rumbly Tumbly’s cafe’ and always will.

And then there’s the coffee. I can ask for it black and within a few seconds the waitress will pour a filter coffee from a glass jug. It comes in a little, smart, white cup, not a chalice big enough to bathe a kitten. And when I finish the waitress comes over and fills it again from the jug, at no extra cost.

Although I spend a lot of time in coffee shops the truth is that much of the explosion of choice, variety and style in contemporary coffee culture leaves me bored. I just want some hot water filtered through some ground up roasted coffee beans. I want it to be comforting – not rich, intense, aromatic, smooth, luxurious, frothed, silky, clean, discerning, invigorating, distinct or indulgent.

When I see guys wearing T-shirts with ‘Barista’ on the back wrestling with large silver machines I’m often tempted to intervene by suggesting that it would save us all a lot of time if they just kept a jar of Mellow Birds on the counter for people like me.

In our wee cafe when the waitress brings my filter coffee there is always a little chocolate on the side of the saucer. I make a big show of peeling off the silver paper and manoeuvring the sweet towards my mouth only for my son to pinch it at the last moment. Sometimes the waitress spots our game and slips me another chocolate. Then my son pinches that as well.

As we’re always first in our food will arrive quickly. I butter his toast and then he begins to nibble on the crust while playing a game on my phone. The toast comes from a square white pan loaf, which my son loves. The sausages are not award-winning or premium and they don’t contain herbs or spices. They’re just sausages, and my son loves them.

I’m a fast eater while my son prefers to graze leisurely so I’m usually finished my fry/porridge while he’s still on the first few bites of toast. So I sit back, relax and watch him, his eyes fixed determinedly on my phone. Often I’m moved to ruffle his hair or give him a quick cuddle and he pushes me away without looking.

Sometimes I’ll sing along to the songs being played, altering the lyrics to suit our situation. Spandau Ballet’s Gold becomes ‘You are bold!’ and Tina’s Turner’s Simply the Best becomes ‘You’re simply a pest!’ And Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark has evolved into ‘We’re just prancing in the park’.

Sometimes other diners give me a confused look. My boy gives no indication that he ever hears me sing at all.

And then, some time later, I’ll pay the bill and then we’ll head off and do something else. Our Saturdays are all different, but they start much the same.

And that’s it, that’s our wee routine. Perhaps it’s so mundane as to be hardly worth recording at all. After all, when I look back on my most memorable achievements in life the Saturday morning cafe visit is unlikely to feature prominently.

But then again, sometimes maybe it is worth making a virtue out of the unremarkable. Our routines are little signposts of stability in the middle of waves of confusion and uncertainty.

Life can be like choosing a coffee. There are always exciting concoctions on offer, new ways of putting it together, boundaries to be explored and different varieties to try. But sometimes, on a Saturday morning, you just need a black filter.

My son gets to do a lot of things. In his young life he has been exposed to a dizzying variety of choices and challenges which were never available to me.

But still, every week, he always asks me if we’re going to the cafe on the Saturday.

Like the past Friday night when he cuddled up beside me in bed.

‘It’s Saturday tomorrow, isn’t it daddy?’

‘Yes it is buddy.’

‘Does that mean we can go to our wee cafe?’

‘Yes it does buddy.’

‘And we’ll be the first ones there, won’t we?’

‘Yes we will buddy.’

‘And we’ll sit at our table?’

‘Yes we will buddy.’

‘And you’ll read out all the things on the menu, won’t you daddy?’

‘Yes I will buddy.’

‘And I’ll pick the sausage and toast?’

‘Yes you will buddy.’

‘And can I play on your phone?’

‘Yes you can buddy.’

‘And you’ll pretend to eat the little chocolate?’

‘Yes I will buddy.’

‘But I’ll steal it off you?’

‘Yes you will buddy.’

His little face is creased in thought for a second.

‘And will you sing the silly songs daddy?’

‘Do you want me to?’

‘Yes, it’s funny.’

‘Then that’s fine buddy. I’ll sing the silly songs.’

And then he closes his eyes and goes to sleep, a contented little smile upon his face.

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