Bedlam. Utter bedlam!
Undoubtedly, “Team 13” rock!!
We were all warned that today would be “a zoo”, but most of the staff at the coffee house were not working there this time last year, and have never experienced the last day of the arts festival before. Given the day was pretty overcast and cold again, we all trooped in and got organised early, but didn’t really expect to be hit with that many customers so quickly and so ceaselessly!!
The entirety of the Cathedral end of 13th Avenue was closed to traffic, to make way for a street fair with loads of stalls all selling things that could be classed as “arts and crafts” – and then burger vans, doughnuts, various Woo Merchants (by which I mean the “copper bracelets for rheumatism and panpipe/whale song CDs” type of stall), the beer tent and someone trying to flog sunglasses ironically. Everyone was frantically setting up around 8am, including us, as we had a tent outside serving up cookies and filter coffee whilst inside was reserved for food and espresso. I was wondering if we were going to cut down the menu or just do take out or something, but noooooooo, the poor kitchen team were trying to do everything they usually do, but at twice the speed for six times the number of customers! The coffee alone was madness, so I have the utmost respect for Mike, Ally, Arun, Rachel and above all, Ashten for coping with all the food orders.
Tanneille had ground up several kilos of coffee for the filter pots and I’d weighed it all out, filling four boxes and three tubs with enough for at least 40 filter pots. We ran out within the two hours!!! Unfortunately the perculator takes 8 minutes to brew one canister of coffee, and we ended up with one person just refilling the damn pots one after the other monotonously, until we really couldn’t keep up any longer and Emma had the bright idea of filling the two litre pots with Americano – because apparently me making up huge buckets of espresso shots and boiling the kettle was quicker than waiting 8 minutes for it to filter. And, as Ashten so assertively put it, “Americano is just espresso watered down so it tastes like coffee.” I despair.
By lunchtime we’d developed a system whereby someone manned the till taking orders and money, sending food orders to print in the kitchen electronically, but handwriting thousands of post-it notes with coffee orders on, which she lined up on the espresso machine, and yours truly just pulled shot after shot after shot after shot and steamed cow-fuls of milk. The post-its got more and more illegible until I was trying to make a “log calm slim late n mad lord fag” [large caramel latte with skimmed milk and a medium London Fog] In a way, I got the easy job because I didn’t actually have to talk to anyone!! If I’d been on the till, we’d have been there all night whilst people tried to figure out my accent or while I forgot soups or poisoned coeliacs with glutenous tofu or something!! The espresso machine doesn’t answer back. Nowadays, it usually does what it is told, but it certainly got a good workout today!! from 1pm to gone 3, I didn’t actually move from the square metre of space surrounding the espresso machine, and after that, it was only to put the pile of milk cartons in the recycling, and grab more cups from the shed. I even asked someone to pass me a bottle of water from the fridge two feet away at one point! I know this sounds ridiculous but I was in my element – I just completely zoned out to everything else around me and concentrated exclusively on coffee – and the day zoomed passed!! I finally noticed the time about 20 minutes before I was supposed to fetch Miranda, and panicked trying to find someone to take over…. We used over 7lb of coffee in four hours, and that was just the espresso, let alone the filter pots outside!
I got some lovely compliments from the boss afterwards, if “you are not human” should be taken as compliment! I do think we all did brilliantly. Better still, Miri had a fun day with Teenage Babysitter, and apparently was no trouble at all, even when they took her round the festival. We had poutine and huge burgers and beers (well, milk) to celebrate afterwards, and when I had a shower, there was coffee grounds in the bottom of the tub – I was literally sweating the stuff from every pore!!
So, top score for my first ever Cathedral Arts Festival – thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I did miss the Monday. Love this neighbourhood!!
Here’s some funky pictures from the week: