When I was in Pret yesterday I noticed that instead of offering ‘strong’ coffee you are prompted to order a ‘two hit’ one. After a brief struggle between a commitment to plain English and caffeine addiction, the devil won and I obediently asked a ‘barista’ for a two hit cappuccino, despite thinking it sounded like a summary of John Prescott’s relationship with journalists.
She stared at me blankly, and asked her colleague for advice. He stood beside her supportively and stared at me blankly. After a moment I asked for a double cappuccino, and they smiled and got me one. I explained I had just been asking for what it said on the board. It’s ridiculous, they said, in Southern European accented English. It’s Oxford Street, most of the people who come in to this place don’t speak English as a first language, why do they make it more difficult? Marketing, I guess, after all, I feel much more kinship with the staff of a cafe if I know that they have the same problems as me in understanding management speak.
I like the Anthony Gormley statues dotted around rooftops in London. They seem vulnerable and lofty, which is a very good image for life alone in the city. The fact that there are several of them within eye-shot of each other also works – that’s what friendships are like here. We can’t necessarily be close but we look out for each other.
I was once having lunch with a man that I had had a minor affair with. He was in London for a few days between postings in Iraq and Nigeria, and asked, as he always did about my personal life, and as always, I replied that I was single. He looked unperturbed and explained that women had much less need of a relationship because they had the emotional support of a network of female friends. Yes, I said wistfully, but men are good at carrying heavy things…
This rainy bank holiday has been a saga of carrying heavy things and spending ages up to my elbows in stereo wiring, and I am proud to report that my new CD/radio, speakers and record player are now blasting out sound and I DID IT MYSELF, waded straight into that masculine world of heavy things and wire. My old stereo was a Eurovision casualty, more proof that bad music kills. I had a dreadful stereo one year at university and unsurprisingly went into depression. Today I feel a sense of feminism I haven’t had since I was sixteen. It really is important to be able to do this stuff yourself.
And resulting from this afternoon’s wiring magic – has anyone listened to Primal Scream’s Screamadelica recently? I celebrated having a record player with my old double LP – the one with little messages from Bobby Gillespie scratched into the run off – and had forgotten how unbelievably good it sounds. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that I request ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ to be played at my funeral, along with ‘Jump’ by Madonna and the penultimate song from the Air album that Annika and I were listening to in South Africa, she knows what I mean. Then the third movement from the Beethoven late quartet in A minor either as people are coming in or leaving. That’s all!