Posh lunch? Fuck that, says Ian Baxter. He's off down the greasy spoon. You coming?

This is an era of multi-national lunch outlets, of soup bars, of re-branded burger vans that will sell you olive drenched Ciabatta for 2 quid.

Want something that tastes the same as everything on the menu? Try McDonalds, Burger King, or KFC. Fancy being tested on your coffee knowledge by a 17 year old who earns less per hour than the price of your latte? Go to Starbucks, Costa Coffee or any other high street clone.

This, supposedly, is consumer choice. A veritable smorgasbord of food decisions meant to have us in rapture.

Seaweed wraps? Organic Humus? Tuna and Sweetcorn Bloomer? What sort of coffee? Colombian? French? Cappuccino? Latte? Eat In? Take Out? Broom up your arse? Fuck off - I don't want any of it, you see.

It's all the same, served in corporate styled shops, their brand imagery rammed down your throat in unison with the dreary greyness on the menu. If there ever was an example of the bland end of globalisation invading the most simple of our needs, like a Blairite food virus, than this is it.

For a while I thought there was no escape, no solace. Either bring in some minging cheddar cheese sandwiches, or face the homogenous onslaught - tarmaslata bloomers from the bun van, tiresome deja vu at the Tesco's megaplex, or eating cardboard out of cardboard at the local burger joint.

But then I saw the light, and haven't looked back since. I work in an industrial park neighbouring the busy A1, and it had been under our noses all the time - calling us like a siren, but we hadn't been listening. Of course! It's beautiful! It's simple! It's what we'd been yearning for - it's the truckers cafe!























Just one mile North on the dual carriageway is my idea of heaven. A place where the chips are plentiful, and the tea is always a-stewing. Of course it's flawed, of course it's manky, but that's why it's so stunningly beautiful.

It's a real cafe, with real food, and more importantly - real people. Not an identikit noodle joint with neo-poseurs supping on thimbles of espresso. The car park is a pot-holed sprawl of gravel and puddles. There's no mission statement on the wall. The menu is chalked on a board. An honest faced old bloke (who probably had a fag hanging from his lip before the days of the hygiene Nazis) stands behind the counter. "Yes duck?" he asks politely, neither firing off a plethora of coffee related questions nor asking if I would like to pay thirty pence extra for large fries.

Allelujah, I have returned.

Most importantly - there's the food. Have what you like. Egg on toast, omelettes, roast dinner, mixed grill, apple pie and custard. It's not going to cost you much. Yeah, most of it's fried and calorie laden. But so fucking what? This isn't Boots Weight Watchers, bwoy. You won't get Sloane-cook Nigella Lawson doing this on her halogen hob.

If you this scares you then have a baked potato with low-fat cottage cheese, you miserable shit. This is food for people who like life in all its gloriousness, not middle class wannabees with a cupboard full of cous-cous. Go on, have a chip butty - you might get run over tomorrow, possibly by the bloke eating jam roly poly opposite you.


The truck stop is the highway cousin of the greasy spoon, sharing the same traits that make faux-trendies sneer - but I fucking love it for these reasons. It's pure class, brimming with details that constantly remind you that you're actually in a real cafe, not some extension of a multinational brand. The one my workmates and myself make an almost daily pilgrimage to has a Tupperware tub of sugar on the counter splattered with brown blobs, the tea is brewed by a gigantic catering bag that stews in a battle-scarred pot, the tables are sticky, and the seats are worn and dirtied from the arses of a multitude of truckers, drivers, builders, families and *people*.




This is why I love the truck stop. It represents something that is dying in this age of the big company e-pastiche - the delicious messy reality of life. Come on, let's hop in the motor, and have an all day breakfast, bread and butter, and two steaming mugs of tea. Don't worry about the smell of cooking oil that will waft as you return to the office, nor the sneers about cholesterol from colleagues - they've just spent a miserable hour sitting in a chrome minimalist coffee bar, secretly wishing the were with you, in the truckstop, grease dripping down their chins, an eye on the tv set, eating fried eggs and fucking loving it. Anyone for another cuppa?

Ian Baxter lives up North and likes hating stuff. Bless.


A L S O  O N  S L E A Z E


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