Police were called to popular coffee outlet Caffè Nero on Marygate earlier today when it became the scene of what appeared to be a vicious hate crime, ahead of the organised racism already crayoned in for Saturday afternoon by the Twottish Defence League and the North East Imbecils.
A 42-year-old woman in ugly shoes has subsequently been arrested and is being questioned over the incident believed to involve a confrontation with the coffee shop’s assistant manager, Ryan Reay. Eye-witness reports suggest language of a culturally insensitive nature came into play more than once, causing one barista to cover his ears and retch over the sink.
“It was really frightening,” said Zac Richardson, 33, a dog demonstrator from Wark. “I was waiting for my chicken panini to be flattened into transparency when I overheard the guy behind the counter asking this woman to repeat herself, like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She did, and then it all kicked off − before we knew where we were the poor guy was replaying his breakfast into one of the jugs reserved for soya milk .”
Mr Richardson broke off, clearly distressed, before adding, “Soya milk is just so wrong.”
Mr Reay, who intervened in an attempt to defuse the situation, explained:
“I heard raised voices and looked across to see a woman in ugly shoes violently gesticulating at Sammy, one of our baristas. I heard Sammy say, ‘Do you mean grande?’ to which this woman replied, ‘No, just a l**ge one, please.’ Sammy repeated ‘Grande?’ as per the training manual, but this just seemed to aggravate the woman further. ‘L**ge!’ she shrieked. ‘L**ge, l**ge, l**ge!'”
Reay went on to say: “We don’t expect to hear language like that in this day and age; I had to send Sammy home, he was so distraught. I gave the woman a chance to apologise but she was beyond reason, embarking on a fury of mime indicating what appeared to be a grande one-shot cappuccino while all the time unleashing a torrent of the ‘l’ word. That’s when I called the police.”
While at face value this seems a straightforward case of hateful intolerance, Professor Jonty Hardcastle from the Department of Applied Culturology at the University of Strathclyde believes that the whole incident is directly linked to a phenomenon known as the ‘Embarrassment Cascade’. First observed in the late 70s among working class men unable to pronounce ‘Quiche Lorraine’ with the correct Gallic inflection, the Embarrassment Cascade is defined as “negative escalating behaviour stemming from an inner awareness of sounding like a tit”.
“It’s actually a very understandable – and therefore treatable – condition,” asserts Dr Hardcastle. “The brain knows when something is vaguely foreign and seeks to reject it, not from fear of catching anything like TB or French, but from the awareness that it is unbelievably poncy. By rigidly sticking to the correct – that is to say, English – term, the brain is preserving dignity and self-respect.
“Of course, while we humans have evolved on a superficial level to embrace anything that smacks of European café culture in the hope that it makes us appear sexually liberated and interested in art, our animal brain still registers attempts at speaking foreign as a complete and utter waste of energy. This woman should be treated with compassion and understanding, perhaps starting with supervised screenings of Wallander. The Kenneth Branagh version, of course, not the one with pretentious subtitles.”
But outraged mother of dragons, Genevieve Fitzroy, had this to say:
“It was a complete disgrace. That woman should have her tongue cut out. No one should have to listen to language like that; it’s offensive and unnecessary. Caffè Nero may be improbably spelt, but it is still the linchpin of multicultural life here in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Only last week, I was sipping my soya latte – grande, naturellement – and I saw a noble man of colour drive past in a car that looked like his own with James Blunt thumping out of the stereo. Don’t tell me that happens in Eyemouth.”