Better than no point at all

Friday February 17, 2006

I started the day with a massive attack of indigestion. You know, the kind that makes you certain you’re having an adverse cardiac event. Until you feel your elbows, wrists and fingers and realize there’s no referred pain there, so it’s that old black magic called wind and a morbid imagination again.

“Are you alright?” Graham asked, suddenly anxious.

“Yeah. It hurts but it’s only wind. I’ll pop a Windeze and sit down for a bit.”

Shortly afterwards I burped. Gently. Then again, not so gently. And then it was done. These modern indigestion remedies are little short of miraculous and I’d recommend everyone to keep a pack in the cabinet just like I do.

“You’re looking brighter,” Graham said, pretending, politely, not to have heard the burps.

“Ayup. The little magic pill sorted it out.”

“Good. Do you think we could go out today. Just to Tesco’s. And I’ll take a side trip into B&Q to get a switch for the new lamp.”

“I think that’s a good idea. We’ve been stuck indoors since Tuesday evening and a change of scene will do us both the world of good.”

It was a good idea, too, and we enjoyed a bit of sunshine and fresh air. By the time he’d schlepped around B&Q and walked over to meet me as I was finishing up in Tesco’s, however, he was looking a little pale and wan once more.

“Let’s dump this lot in the car,” I said, “and come back for a cuppa and a nibble so’s you can rest up for a bit.”

“I’d like that.”

Aided by a cup of hot tea and a small pastry, the colour came back to his cheeks and he was very shortly ready to tackle the drive back home. Nothing like a nice cup of tea when you’re feeling a little under the weather.

Much as I appreciate and admire the quality and consistency of modern catering places like Starbucks I can’t quite desert the good old-fashioned British eatery, no matter if it’s in the form of a traditional café or a Tesco’s Coffee Shop. Indeed, I find myself more and more frequently seeking out such places. Oh, sure, the service might not be as bright, and the product not entirely consistent, and the decor is seldom as zingy as you find in Starbucks or Costa Coffee and their ilk but even so, there’s a warmth to them that is uniquely British. Slightly damp, a little dingy, and with tables and chairs that could often do with a good clean. Even so…

A large element of the traditional British fug I remember from my early days is shortly to disappear, of course. A nation-wide total ban on smoking is to be imposed in all enclosed public places from next year, including pubs and cafés. In my perverse manner I shall miss that, though I do appreciate and endorse the cleaner air and the health arguments. Even so…

I think I may well seek out and frequent the traditional British café even more assiduously in future, perhaps going so far as to make a deliberate project of it. Such visits are good for the nostalgia circuits in my brain if for nothing else. A Britain without the traditional British café is as unthinkable as France without the bistro, or Greece without the taverna.

Speaking of nostalgia, Graham seems to be embarked on a new collection, of classic table lamps and electric fans. While he was away I took delivery of another couple of his eBay purchases, the first a lovely Italian ceramic lamp base with its original fibreglass shade, and the second a smaller version of the Indian Cinni fan, rebadged and sold in IKEA right back when they were starting up and taking over the Habitat business. The electric fan doesn’t light my candle so much as the lamp, which is a gem of 1950s art ceramics.

“What do you think?” Graham asked after he’d rewired and cleaned the lamp, and clicked it on for the first time.

“It’s perfect. I’m certain I remember similar designs from when they first appeared. I had a dinner service in an almost identical pattern.”

“What happened to it?”

“Oh, a couple of plates got broken and I chucked the rest out.”

“You old fool. Do you realize just how much those designs fetch on eBay these days?”

“Yeah, well, if it were not for old fools like me chucking them out they’d not be rare now, would they?”

“You may have a point. Not much of a point, but better than no point at all.”


Another new classic lamp



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