Posted on

Look on my coffee bar ye mighty and despair

I have just been down to Duvale Priory in Devon for a couple of days where I stumbled across this weird monument – the Devonian Sphinx.

The Devonian Sphinx

We are so used to seeing the ol’ Sphinx in a state of ancient ruin, that it comes as a shock to see this new one, lying there with no word of explanation or attribution. From the side it appears to have a horn on its head, but this becomes a crown as you move to view it from the front. The Devonian sphinx appears like a Queen, or an Empress, in ornamental gear. Is this how the Egyptian sphinx originally looked?

Half cat, half woman, the sphinx has always been the ultimate evocation of  mysterious ancient gods, and also a symbol of their decline and defeat at the hands of time. How weird to be reminded that the sphinx was once a sign of all that is powerful, beautiful and dangerous.

Another startling cat-related image also exists nearby (see below).

Missing Cat stalks abroad










No doubt this beast is still terrorising the countryside.

Ah,  the fall of great things to the march of time! The implacable forces of change! I was shocked to see my second favourite coffee bar in Cambridge has closed. The Cambridge Coffee Company – I always love the cheek of these small businesses that assume large names – has shut up shop. I had my camera on me, and took a few shots…

Cambridge Coffee Company Closes

Particlarly poignant is the broom. I can imagine the owner, his once smiling face now offstage and thoughtul, as he leant his broom for the final time against the counter, not even bothering to put it away or take it with him after his final, diligent sweep-round.

Also eloquent are the envelopes piled up at the door – sad to think that each and every one of those pieces of junk mail lying there was probably intended to try and squeeze some money out of the Cambridge Coffee Company.

Letters at low tide










“My name is Ozymandias, king of kIngs:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.


About Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin is a writer, cartoonist and editor. He is author of the Candle Man series of fantasy novels for Egmont. His best-known comics are Abe - an autobiographical strip (Top Shelf);Temptation (Penguin Books and Active Images); Spider-Man heroes and Villains (Eaglemoss);the Rockpool Files (With Phil Elliott, Slave Labor/Marvel UK); Robot Crusoe (Funday TImes); Plasmer (Marvel UK); Clan Destine (Marvel USA).

One response to “Look on my coffee bar ye mighty and despair

  1. J. Henry Bean ⋅

    There’s a lot to be said for unpopular coffee bars though. The peace and quiet, the limitless choice of seats, the undivided attention of the pathetically grateful staff – what’s not to like? A favourite coffee place of mine is (or was) on Bute Street in South Kensington. A bustling thoroughfare of pricey, never-not-packed sandwich shops and coffee bars, rammed with tiny, pale, chain-smoking French students sitting round a single latte. Not THIS coffee bar though. Frequently the only occupants of Unpop Central (not its real name) were the two hostile moon-faced eastern bloc girls behind the till. How they hated me. They hated everybody – but damn, they made nice coffee. I haven’t been back in years but I wonder now and then if they survived. I’d hate to think they’d succumbed to the lone broom and scree slope of junk mail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s