It's quiet. My table is small, round, and with a chessboard pattern printed on its plywood top. I can tell it's plywood from the edges. Over to my right are two older men; white-haired, so older than me anyway. They're playing chess, but they are using a floppy white chessboard of their own, because they don't have a chessboard-printed tabletop. Actually, it's checkers they're playing, not chess.
Back on my own table, there are seven items, and no chess pieces. At the nine o'clock position -- nine thirty maybe -- is my glasses case. It's lying open, and my glasses cleaning rag is partly spilling out onto the table top. Tangled in with the rag are my glasses -- my regular varifocals. One leg is folded, but the other is open, so the glasses case can't close. The leg broke this morning and I had to fix it with superglue and tape. It'll do until I get home, at which point I'll get completely new glasses. In fact, I think I might try contact lenses for the first time. Anyway, that's why neither glasses nor case will close. Moving towards me, at the six o'clock position, there's my iPad. I'm resting this notebook on the iPad, but as a result I don't count the notebook as being among the seven tabletop items. At four o'clock, my Starbucks tea. It's a Venti size. They should just call it Large. Small, Medium, Large; what was wrong with those names? Moving on, at three o'clock, almost opposite my glasses case, is the brown paper bag that for a very brief time held a Cranberry Orange scone. To be perfectly honest, the bag is resting on a napkin, and the napkin, not the bag, is one of the seven. Maybe I should feel bad because I'm being inconsistent about what gets counted. The notebook doesn't, but the bag does? It's not a grave sin, because I'm counting only the bag, and I'm not counting the napkin. So there's no sense in which I'm double-counting. Still, it leaves me vaguely uneasy. Inconsistency and lack of reason has caused many terrible things for humanity. Maybe it all starts with a bag. Dragging myself from such grave concerns, my eyes scan to the centre of the table to find my iPhone. It's a 4S. Worryingly, it has sat throughout me writing all of this, on. That is, it hasn't slipped into any kind of battery-saving sleep mode. It is, as I say, worrying. That's five then, being the tabletop items actually belonging to me. The other two are not mine. They were here when I sat down. One, a half drunk bottle of mineral water; the other, a now-empty sachet of Splenda. I would have thought someone could have cleared them by now. Maybe they think the last two items are mine.
Looking up from my tabletop world, my Starbucks is even quieter now. The atmosphere, or lack thereof, is pleasant. The guitar music on the speaker is ... plaintive. And almost all the other tables are now empty. The old men are still there, at their checkers -- surely it's a different game by now? And they now have a spectator, a younger man, maybe late teens. He's wearing a letterman jacket. He looks Chinese. I thought at first that didn't fit with the old guys, but now I see it does. They're Chinese too. Music is even more plaintive now. It's a song, by a girl; gently minor key, repetitive. But nice, if melancholy.