Friday, October 20, 2006

Ydch'yn hoffi coffi?

Welsh, look you, (nb I have never heard anyone from Wales say "look you", have you?)

Anyway, it means “Would you like some coffee?”

And in my case, I almost always would. There are two ways I would like it:

a) with milk


b) without milk, also known as “black”.

In the Olden Days in England you knew where you were with coffee. On a train it would be in a nasty plastic cup and it would be lukewarm and taste of crushed acorns. In a café it would be in a white china cup and it would be lukewarm and taste of crushed acorns. Either way it would come with the milk already added. Black coffee was seen as a suspiciously Gallic import.

But now things have gone to the other extreme.

A short digression: Taking Emily to meet Gareth at Leeds City Station today, I remembered with extreme displeasure that the station car park is now pay and display. Previously, you paid as you left. Now, as you drive into the car park, you have to guess how long you’re going to be: and of course, in order to know this you need to know when the train you’re meeting is going to arrive. Oh, hollow laughter!

So, are you going to go for a very expensive 50p for twenty minutes or a wholly extortionate £1.80 for forty minutes? Of course, you’re going to go for the forty minutes, aren’t you, just in case the train is late. So, with a much grumbling about the bastards who thought this would be a helpful system, and how things have gone downhill since people who travel on trains stopped being “travellers” and started being “customers” you pay up.

So, I paid my £1.80 and Gareth arrived and he and Emily went off to town, so I decided to go to the station cash machine and have a coffee, just to get my value out of the forty minutes that I’d paid for.

Now back to the coffee. These days it isn’t just white or black: it’s espresso, cappuchino, latte, in three sizes. Small - which is large: medium - which is very large indeed: - and large, which is enormous: enough to douse the whole station should it happen to catch fire.. Also you can have things added like hazelnut and caramel and chicken. (I lied about the chicken but I don’t like the hazelnut or caramel either).

And every cup requires the use of at least three machines: one to give coffee, one to give milk and one to give sound effects. All the assistants get in each other’s way as they queue in turn with jugs and cans and make mystic passes beneath the coffee machine, the milk machine and the machine that goes pssschhhhh.

So by the time the person in front of you has ordered one latte with caramel, small, and one espresso, large, and the espresso has been redone because they did a small one by mistake so it was only large instead of enormous, and the pssschhhh machine has been refilled, and then two cappuccinos one with chocolate sprinkled on the top and one without, and another latte with extra chicken, what size did you say? Ooh, I don’t know I’ll go and ask him he’s over by the bookshop - - -

Well, by the time they’d done all that I had been parked for thirty-seven minutes and I had to go.

Is it me, or is life getting trickier?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that I believe that such overenthusiastic coffee shops are the best possible result of capitalism (like shops that sell nothing but two hundred varieties of milkshake). Coffee (and tea... if you like that sort of thing) is too good a thing to be rushed, which is why each day of an archaeological excavation must, by unwritten law, contain at least three tea breaks, and why I was perfectly prepared to spend 45 minutes punching Luke's cappucino machine until it worked.
Blame the car parking, DO NOT blame those glorious, glorious overpriced beverages.

11:24 am  
Blogger John said...

When I were a lad we din 'thave sugar nor milk and not much tea neither, just hot water - and that were cold.

6:36 pm  

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