Monthly Archives: September 2010

On the gradual decaffeination of life’s pleasures

One evening this week, at dinner with a friend, the waitress cleared our plates and asked us whether we’d like desserts. Since we hadn’t been too impressed by the food, we decided to go straight to coffee. And for the first time in my life, I ordered a decaf.

There’s something BC/AD about opting for decaf. The first time you do it, you’re mentally bisecting your life, cutting what is to come adrift from your devil-may-care, stimulant-fuelled past. You’re making a statement, and that statement takes many forms, the most anodyne being, ‘I need to get a good night’s sleep tonight’, with more cynical interpretations including, ‘It may be only 10pm, but I’m already thinking about getting home and going to bed’.

For me, the message was, ‘I’ve reached that age where my body now partly dictates my lifestyle’. Which is a daunting admission that elicited a raised eyebrow from our waitress.

It’s part of growing up – and growing old – this gradual shift to moderation. At 18, I’d wake up on Sunday mornings feeling bright and dewy, despite having gone out the night before. Of course, I’d affect a hangover for form’s sake, but in private I naïvely assumed I was someone whose system just didn’t bow to hangovers. Reality set in with each passing year, and now, within reaching distance of 30, I’ll drink only one glass of wine more than usual at dinner and find myself the victim of a stealth attack hangover that leaves me staggering around, miserable and uncomprehending, for two days. As a result, I’ve learnt to eye all alcohol from a respectful distance.

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In the club

Another busy morning at The Breakfast Club with plenty of satisfied customers. Here’s what went down…

The preparations

Mmm...macaroons

The menu

The guests

The main course

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Just passing judgement

Every time I pass my local McDonalds and glance into the new-look dining room, I can’t help but marvel at the cold, flinty genius behind their most recent advertising push.

You know the one – all these average Joes who were ‘just passing by’ – people from all walks of life, all tucking happily into their burgers. Your subconscious prods you excitedly: they’re just like me – that could be me in there! God, I take the gherkin out before I eat a cheeseburger too! The spoken poems come at you like a train, tickling you internally with their catchy rhythm and, slowly but surely, against your better judgement, McDonalds manages to endear itself to you just a little. (More than the soft-focus footage of children frolicking amongst hay bales ever did anyway.)

I’m curious as to which particular store the company used to study and capture the antics of these average McDonalds customers. Not the one around the corner from me, that’s for certain. Had they come to my part of town, the narration would have run rather differently…

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