CHANDLER ON COFFEE

“I went out to the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired (wo)men.” THE LONG GOODBYE

brown coffee beans

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During the first lock down, once I had stocked up on loo roll,  my main fear was running out of coffee. Obviously a lot of people felt the same because to start with I couldn’t get any. I had some stores but I was fretting. Obviously displacement fretting but all the same fretting. And then I went shopping one day and lo and behold packs of coffee so hurrah and snatch snatch off the shelf. It was only when I got home that I realised they were packets of beans and I have no grinder. I did consider smashing them up with a hammer or a rolling pin; I certainly felt cross enough to do that but my partner dissuaded me and then ground coffee became available fairly soon afterwards and so the bags of beans were shoved to the back of the cupboard. 

Time passed.  

I live opposite a car showroom and this came out of lock down quite early. Lester was the man who used to work for them washing the cars and cleaning the forecourt etc… Lester knew everyone in the district because he used to hang out in the open and chat.  The car show room is situated at the beginning of a cut through which follows along the base of an overground part of the London tube which is lined with garages. It is used by a lot of people and Lester was one of those people who talks to everyone.  Lester kept the cars and forecourt immaculate and did so with very little fuss and other than friendly chat, and a bit of hail fellow well met, not much noise. Unfortunately he also occasionally took to the bottle so  he was fired and everyone missed him.

A replacement was hired who, for the purposes of this post, I’ll call LBM (Leafblower Man). He wears a bright orange jump suit and has a leaf blower which he loves. I became aware of him and the leaf blower because it  was a new and persistent noise. I am used to noise. If you live on a busy main road with the tube rumbling past, and the skip lorries taking the corner at pace and the jingle jangle of the chains that hold them in place you either get used to it or you go mad. I am also used to the very distinctive whine that bus engines make when trapped in traffic.

The leaf blower drove me nuts because it was on so long and he was using it in such a hopeless way. So I took to watching LBM from the window with a running commentary of why I found him so irritating and how there were still lots of leaves under the cars which he had not blown out and that he was simply blowing the leaves into the bicycle lane and the wind was blowing them back and what was the point of that and Lester would quietly have raked them up and put them in green bags while shooting the breeze with whoever etc etc and making everyone feel better about life. So I went on like this until my partner told me to stop.

two coffee latte

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Then one day I looked at the beans and I thought I have to buy a coffee grinder, so I did. This was about six months after buying the beans. I am what is called a late adopter. And on the first day I was happily grinding my beans and I realised how much I was enjoying making a new and not very persistent noise. And now, strangely enough, LBM no longer annoys me. All it has taken is 20 seconds a day in order to drink my own ruthless, strong depraved …. etc. 

So, have you got anything sitting in your cupboard that you bought in a panic/by mistake in the beginning of lockdown? Or have you bought a new gadget? Tell me about it. Has anyone out there got a milk frother?

JANUARY BLUES? ASK PHILIP MARLOWE

It’s the end of January. You’re suffering from lack of light, lack of money, general grumpiness and restlessness and you have nine days to complete your tax return. What yer gonna do? A course on mindfulness? If that’s not for you may I offer the next best thing, advice from that great agony uncle PI Philip Marlowe courtesy of Raymond Chandler. Let’s throw him a few questions and see if he can fix us for the coming year.

Q. Philip, I’m thinking of moving to the country. What do you think?

A. You take it friend. I’ll take the big sordid dirty crowded city. *

Q. Should I reduce my coffee intake?

A. I (just) went out to the kitchen to make coffee-yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life-blood of tired men. *

Q. What do you think of dry January?

A. Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine.*

Q. Could you describe a recent meal for us.

A. The eighty-five-cent dinner tasted like a discarded mail bag and was served to me by a waiter who looked as if he’d slug me for a quarter, cut my throat for six bits and bury me at sea in a barrel of concrete… ***

Q. Oh dear, well moving swiftly on should I get divorced?

A. The first divorce is the only tough one. After that it’s merely a problem in economics. *

Q. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather should I visit my GP?

A. Doctors are just people, born to sorrow, fighting the long grim fight like the rest of us. **

Q.What do you think of this “I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.” What does that mean Mr Marlowe?

A. Not a bloody thing. It just sounds good. *

Q. Here’s another one “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” Does that suggest anything to you?

A. Yeah, it suggests to me the guy didn’t know very much about women. *

Well, thank you for your time Mr Marlowe, I’m sure that’s made us all feel a whole lot better, hasn’t it? But whatever you do, reader, don’t go and kick a hole in a stained glass window. Unless you’re a bishop of course. If you’re a bishop and you just happen to have seen a blonde go right ahead.

Who do you read to cope with the January blues?

* The Long Goodbye

**The Lady in the Lake

***Farewell My Lovely