Normative, ha! What does normative know?
I am Andrew Luke.
Last month, I visited Nerdtopia in the leafy student district of Belfast’s Stranmillis Road. They were all out of Deli-Lite sandwiches, so instead, I’d a gourmet sausage roll made for the Sultan himself.
It was the morning after Q-Con, an enormous sci-fi and gaming thing, a village. We maintain being wrecked due to this pressurised stint of business, and not the Jack Daniels controlling our neurologies.
I love coffee; the dirty damage of any writer but frankly I’d been up since 6am working on my latest commission* and deserved a soothing addle of hot cocoa hyperdrive.
Nerdtopia Coffee Manager John, quite lovely. Please keep him in work.
Nerdtopia Says Eat Cake – The coffee making area is perhaps Nerdtopia’s greatest flaw. Not for the vanilla, caramel and chocolate syrups, the size it takes up in the small premises; an industrial length box perhaps ripped from an ice-cream shop.
Around about is a booth for four, round two-person tables, a set of comfies and throws, a reader shelf and accessible pinboard. This informs the realisation I’m sitting in a community space. A business sure, but it feels inclusive, almost organic. The shop has it’s backbone of regulars, explains John, “but we get all ages in here. Many are locals just looking for somewhere with a bit of colour.”
This is Chris, the store manager. Out the back of the shop is a large room ideal for workshops and signings, used by gaming groups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They open a little later then.
The comics selection is one black case of about eighty books built of Judge Dredd, Batman, The Walking Dead and Warhammer. They also have on sale key rings, die-casts and brushes; board games, tobacco cases and the United Rizla Papers of Benetton.
The Nerdtopia flyer, with £1 off any large tea or coffee. Hot! They also do a 10% student discount.
In my dream scenario, comics readers are treated as the over 25s and allowed to mix strips, beer and daylight if they so choose, without awaiting allocated convention days. We’re all responsible drinkers, except for the Whovian cosplayers. The next best thing is this social model of selling coffee with comics. The late Jack Brodies in Camden sold Dr. Octopus and orange juice, and I’m told Plan B Books in Glasgow has Satrapi and Sumatra, and that Dublin City Comics and Collectables does Kickass and Kitkats.
I’d taken the 8a there, but it’s really a ten minute stroll back to the city. First, the bladder must be emptied and John points me out to the back room. Then another doorway. a tall enclosure stretching to the celing, it’s outer walls on each side an assuring police box blue welcomes me to travel the streams with the technology within.
Nerdtopia are located at 86 Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5AD. Here’s a link to their Facebook page.
*Andrew Luke is currently finishing writing the Looking For Work series of books for the Social Security Agency of Northern Ireland.