Saturday, February 13, 2010

Meeting up

I drove to Bristol, to meet up with Ben and Rich, old schoolfriends that I've known for almost two decades. Rich is now working in Edinburgh but was flying down for the weekend, while Ben's been living in Bristol for a while now. Both of them have lived in Bristol before, so perhaps they're gravitating to it like moths to a mixed metaphor.

We stopped at Newbury services to have a short break. I went to the Costa Coffee there to get a latte. They seemed vaguely incompetent in no well-defined way – very, very slow to make a coffee so the queue was getting bigger and bigger, and colliding with people wandering in and out of the toilets. You don't want coffee to collide with urine, in my experience.

Well, not in my experience. I've never had coffee with urine in it. Not intentionally.

Although I did have civet coffee in Bali once. That's coffee made from beans that have been filtered through the alimentary canal of a civet, which is a rather large Indonesian rodent. It tastes just like coffee, which is a little disappointing, as otherwise it would give rise to a nice variation on an old joke:

Waiter, this coffee tastes like shit!”
Well sir...”

(Civet coffee is more expensive than other types of coffee. Given how it's produced, one might question the economics of that.)

Eventually I got my coffee, and a slice of chocolate-and-caramel-covered shortbread, as a reward for the arduous task of keeping my foot on the accelerator pedal and keeping the car pointing towards Wales for two hours. We went out to the car park and drove off, and then I took a bite from the shortbread, while doing about 70 mph.

It exploded. It must have been the single most fragile food in the universe. The chocolate and caramel topping didn't bind the rest of it together at all, and a spray of shortcake went right down the front of my shirt, over my lap and the chair. I could hardly pull over to dust it down, so I had to drive the remaining sixty miles or so looking like I couldn't feed myself competently.

Which I couldn't, given that so much of the shortbread had missed my mouth.

In future, I will revert to my old habit of putting all the shortbread into my mouth in one go, to prevent further shortcake eruptions. That will look much more cultural and refined than getting it down myself.


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