How to get a reputation you don't want

I swear I've seen fruit for sale in Cafe Nero. I swear I've been in there and seen a bowl of assorted pieces of fruit on the counter.

So, when I went in one morning this week before work and, with a very long queue of people behind me, asked the assistant if they had any bananas in, I didn't think it was stupid.

But they did.

'We don't sell bananas,' the assistant said, with a kind of 'who's this dork who doesn't know a coffee shop from a greengrocer's?' look on her face. Someone in the queue behind me tittered. I should have just walked out there and then. But I swear ...

'Oh, I thought I'd seen fruit on the counter before,' I said. 'Here,' I said, pointing to an empty space. 'It was right here.'

Give her her due, she looked at the empty space with me. I was grateful to her for that. She'd obviously had some training in a care home before joining the cafe ... 'Just humour them; if they think they're at the battle of Waterloo wearing blue slippers, they are. Don't argue.'

'So I thought you might be able to sell me a banana, you see.'

'We don't sell bananas,' she said. That's the training again, see. 'Just repeat, repeat, and stick to your guns when you're trying to get them to do something. Eventually, they'll give back the teeth they took from someone else's sterilising fluid.'

'What, never? Not just not today?'



'Would you like a coffee?' she said, meaning, 'Because if you don't, all these other people behind you DO'.

'No thanks. I only wanted a banana,' I said, and I left.

I don't get it. Before I walked into Cafe Nero, I felt like a normal, average person, who wanted a banana. On walking out, I felt like one of those ladies who wanders around the town with lots of tattered shopping bags, talking to stray dogs, and going into shops to make inappropriate demands. The assistant in Cafe Nero probably popped over to the greengrocer's later to say, 'Look, if a strange woman comes in here asking for a cappuccino and three sugars, avoid eye contact, whatever you do.'

And I swear ...


  1. Poor Fran. Perhaps it was just a practical joke? Just before you came to the counter they removed the bowl of bananas and other fruits and then they acted like they never saw any fruit, and as soon as you left it was back on the counter...

    Seriously though, I so understand the feeling!

  2. I'm going to have that ruddy song in my head all day - "Yes, we have no bananas!"

  3. Ann-Katrin, now you say it, they were giggling behind their hands when I went in. But then, maybe I'm just paranoid. I don't think I'm paranoid ... although all the people I hear talking about me obviously do.

  4. Bluestocking Mum, I nearly put that line into the post and then decided against it. You heard it anyway!!

  5. Well.........
    Are you sure you aren't working too hard?

  6. Ah, Friko, you've rumbled me. It's amazing how marking bad creative writing can drive you to wandering around town asking for bananas in coffee shops.

  7. Yes, we have no bananas.

    When I read your posts, I often have a picture of you in my mind. Here you are standing clinging to some sort of dagger wearing blue slippers and dolefully eating a banana.

  8. Yep, Mark, that'll be me. With a police officer lurking just behind.


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