My last commission as Brent Poet Laureate…

Thanks to those who took the time to check out the video for my Neasden Temple inspired poem, anyone who missed it can take a look here

A slightly different vibe now though for my 3rd & final commission as Brent Poet Laureate – another thing that has been interesting me around Brent, and London in general, is the baffling continued presence of the internet café.

Logically there should only be one or two of these left anywhere, and by rights these remaining anachronisms should operate more as museums, you know: “come and watch yesterdays future gather dust like a prototype hoverboard.”

But no, there are actually more than ever. I put this down to the fact that instead of lamenting the demise of their kind with a voice like a dial up modem wailing, net cafes have diversified. Wildly.

What used to be net café express, is now net café EXCHANGE express and you can buy or sell or do virtually anything: untraceable sim cards, next level laptops, money transfers overseas, knock off smart phone covers in dayglo orange or tartan, blank CDs, probably blank cassettes if you ask right. No word of a lie, in Kilburn there is a fishmonger which is also a netcafe.

And everything here happens quickly, in the grunted business language of the high road entrapenour. So, I wrote this next piece in the voice of all north west London net café owners, in fact all web kings capital wide. You can listen to an audio recording of the poem here:

And here is the text version:

Net cafe exchange express
Net Cafe Exchange Express. We buy, we sell, we repair. Up to you Boss.
Everything you have not saved will be lost. Email. Fax international. Calls
low cost. All continents here. See her on number two, with the head scarf
and the many plastic bags. Everyday googling stress and hyper-tension. Up
she gets now look, all bustle quick quick with ages left, her 30 minutes
not yet done. My friend. Everything has a price. Printing Black & White. 10p.
Printing Colour. £1. You know the cafe down the road? The new one, yes.
Free wireless, hot drinks, fancy food. Our Fanta and Kit Kat stay cheap,
up to you boss. This tall man brings his book. To my internet cafe. His book.
But he pays, like all customers. Just watch. He will sit down quick then
turn the screen off. Read many pages in one hour. Go.
He tells me he read the internet, all of it. But now he’s bored of it. Honestly,
rubbish. He say that. With no smiling either. And then old red face on
number eight, always pointing pointing I print something yes? Did that come?
I give in not once. Coz being nice only leads to more questions. Soon
I’ll be typing all emails to their cousin in Greece, scanning their house bills,
Skyping their wife. And probably I do it quicker than they can. Jokes,
but with more speed actually I bring in less money. So I give in to him not once.
Yes 10p per print black & white. Yes 50p minimum internet charge as well. Yes,
for logging on and pressing print only. Yes, if you put 60p in the jar each time
you print something here the last six months, you buy two printers. Yes.
But then here you are again, so probably you did not. End of the day.
It’s up to you boss. Everything you have not saved will be lost. And the time
is running out I know, yes. You’re not going to get done what you need to get done.
None of us are.