I was in a well-known coffee shop this morning waiting for my phone to be fixed (...) people watching and eavesdropping. I love sitting in coffee shops/cafes reading and writing. They have to be full but with enough seats and they have to be anonymous and impersonal.
I have a similar feeling on trains too and sometimes in parks. It is something to do with being both part of the place and set apart as an observer. There is a feeling of uncommitted belonging; the background chatter and occasional squawk from a pram make me feel grounded and safe, yet I also feel happily isolated and able to listen and observe. There is also a pleasant suspension of external demand - and almost a loss of control. This is especially true for me on a train - it has to be warm, quiet and half-full. Someone is driving it and I am going from A to B and that is all there is. I am a passenger or a customer, quietly riding or consuming my 'beverage' and that half-loss really helps me float free and my mind wander happily.
Hence, some of my more successful poems have been written in coffee shops and many started life there.
Here's one I wrote in Starbucks Blackheath
And here's to many more gratuitous coffees and muffins..!