When I first moved to Battle a few years ago, I accompanied my wife to the station and was struck by the number of coffee outlets that there are in the town.
At the station I realised a man was even selling coffee and snacks there (our former mayor in fact).
I approached him and said “How many coffee shops do you think there are in Battle?” After a bit of ritual sucking of teeth he said “Half a dozen?” “No”, I said triumphantly. “There are at least 20 by my reckoning.”
A little later, with my wife suitably waived off at the station, I departed, with the poor man still working out where I got my 20 from.
Like any investigator worth his salt, out came the notebook and pen and off I went to count them all.
I decided I could include all of the pubs and restaurants, as they too provide coffee. I even counted the Esso garage that sells coffee in paper cups and the lady selling refreshments in the auction rooms that were open that day. Well why not?
I had already counted six by the time I’d reached the High Street and decided to cross The Green and write down the names of coffee parlours on that side of the road.
As I recorded them in my book, the door of one of the coffee shops shot open and a Spanish looking gentleman, called out to me. “Hey wadda ya writin in ya book? My car is only parked there for a minute!” “Oh I’m just recording how many coffee providers there are in Battle. How many do you think?” I added, to take the sting out of the situation.
He was by now all smiles. “I don’t know – perhaps twelve?” “No.” I replied, with a note of authority in my voice. “At least 20”.
At this he became less coherent and I suspect was muttering something along the lines of “No wonder I don’t-a make-a much-a money!”
Had I played my cards right I might have got a free coffee out of him.
As I moved up the High Street the number of hot beverage outlets continued to rise and passed twelve as I reached Costa Coffee.
It seemed ironic that a Spaniard ran the English Tearoom adjacent to Battle Abbey, yet Costa Coffee appeared to be run by English teenagers.
By the time I had made the Market Place I had counted a grand total of 25 coffee sellers littering the main road through Battle.
This may in part explain why the Saxons lost in 1066, if there were as many back then. Too many coffees on the way to Senlac Hill would have required them to momentarily turn their backs on the Norman’s, for a leak. A fatal error.
The rest, as they say, is history.