Monthly Archives: May 2008

To my espresso machine

Dear Cubika,

People complain when men objectify women. Do you think they would care if I sexualize an object?

Because I feel the need to say you are one hot piece of equipment.

You were a risk to me. You looked good. I didn’t know if I could handle you. Pump, milk frother, plug business: I knew there would be maintenance issues.

The social dynamic scared the hell out of me too. No more barista banter? No more drinking in public? Really?

Friends influenced me. Some said you may not be pro enough. If you’re taking one home, they said, get the super model.

But I was ready and I knew it from the length of time I gave to your instructions.

You are super and you make me super too.

Do you know how hard I tried to get the right grinder for you? Hours surfing consumer reviews on Amazon, like some caffeine-crazed Laird Hamilton. Dedicated expeditions to Oxford Street. Not one, but two faulty Krups machines; John Lewis really needs to sort out their kitchen department.

Jug, thermometer, stainless steel tamper: I haven’t been cheap. I want you to feel alive- like the crema you push through the tiny holes in your cup filter is at the very core of who you are.

I will never fill you with stale beans.

When I have sponged you down tonight and you take a rest- which you really deserve- I want you to know how you make me feel.

With you I am Humphrey Bogart. I’m a Parisian tart wearing suspenders, in a smoke-filled dive. I am a bespoke-suited, middle-aged Italian outside a café in Venice. I am an intellectual in the rain. I am so bloody grown up.

And I’m thinking up good things, really fast.

X

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Addict

You can’t spend time in Seattle and ignore The Bean.

Coffee shops were already thriving there when Starbucks opened its first outlet in 1971 and other chains and independents have been opening up at a terrific rate ever since- presumably to try to make amends.

There are now over 600 of the buggers: that’s 2 and ½ shops per 1 thousand people.

Even so, Seattleites aren’t drinking as much as the Finns, who get through a whopping 11 kilos of the stuff per person a year and must be more nervous than the Tory party when they found out Boris was going to be London mayor.

A typical coffee shop in the Emerald City is in a leafy suburban road, with cool graphically-designed signage.

Inside, the furniture is retro with original artwork by local artists on the walls and The Delgados on the juke-box.

The clientele are one at a table, tapping away on lap-tops, wearing ear-phones.

And behind the counter stands an inconspicuous barista who may just make you THE BEST LATTE YOU’VE EVER HAD.

Because they take the art of coffee-making seriously there.

And if you’ve ever sampled the best you will know that an art it is.

It is painful watching the average cup of Joe being made in London, involving the sloshing of overheated milk on top of a bitter, lifeless liquid.

In Seattle, it’s close to an erotic experience.

Being the prudish sort, I have recently brought the whole dirty business into the privacy of my kitchen.

So now I have an espresso machine, ready to do the unspeakable for me every day.

And this excerpt from a mail advising me how to froth the milk with it suggests that on this subject I am not alone:

so first up stick your nozzle (ooh mrs) right down into the milk and then slowly slowly lower jug until the tip is just under the milk surface, and you get that schhchchchhhhhhhhhh noise. the bubbles you’re making should be really tiny.. one or two big ones is allowable though, cos you can get rid of them later. dont move the jug up and down. this is called wanking the jug (i’m serious) and although you may be tempted sophie, resist the urge.

The delicate film on the espresso; the velvet texture of the milk; the intense aroma; the stimulating buzz after the first sip…

It is, quite simply, the naughtiest activity you can engage in whilst simultaneously doing the washing up.

Do it. Do it now**********

* If this chat has titillated you and you would like to see some pouring porn visit here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6EuEygqB08/

**If this chat has made you want to go to Seattle and embibe the most delicious organic coffee in the most stylish environment, owned by the nicest people ever, then visit here:

http://www.caffefiore.com/

*** If this chat has made you want to try a cup of caffeine nirvana in central London, the 2007 Time Out Food and Drink awards think you should visit here:

Fernandez & Wells, 73 Beak St. W1
Bullet, Third Floor, Snow & Rock, 4 Mercer St, WC2
Flat White, 17 Berwick St, W1
Nordic Baker, 14 Golden Square, W1
Sacred Café, 13 Ganton St. W1

****If this chat has bored you to tears then have a double espresso and WAKE UP, goddamit!

Tomorrow: a love letter to my machine.

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J.Lo’s nanny interview

J.Lo: Hello. I’m Jenny. You can call me Jen.

Nanny: Thank you. Hello.

J.Lo: Please don’t look me in the eye.

Nanny: OK.

J.Lo: You’re here to interview for the job of nanny to my twinnies so I’m going to ask you a few questions. Did you prefer me in Out of Sight or Maid in Manhattan?

Nanny: Out of Sight worked better because George Clooney looked like he could handle you whereas it seemed to me you could probably eat Ralph Fiennes for breakfast.

J.Lo: Breakfast? What’s that? That was a joke. You can laugh. Of course I eat breakfast. Don’t repeat that.

So once a month I get a limo down to the Bronx to spend time in my old neighbourhood. I let my Mom sit in the car and drink Evian water.

Nanny: That’s nice.

J.Lo: I think so. It takes about 45 minutes. That’s a lifetime in this business so I’d like you to stand by the car and when people pass by say, ‘I think J. Lo’s in that limo. Can you believe it?’

Be creative. You don’t have to say that.

Nanny: OK.

J.Lo: I’ve got a couple hundred exes floating around. They must never be mentioned in this house. Sean Combs, in particular, is a touchy subject.

Nanny: Puff Daddy?

J.Lo: Exactly. Make sure the twinnies never go to Marc Anthony and ask him if he wants to smoke. You see what a minefield it is?

Nanny: Yes, I do.

J.Lo: Do you think I should concentrate on singing, acting, dancing, modeling, record and television producing, my fashion line, my perfume, my reality show or being a Mom?

Nanny: Your fashion line, definitely. I like your floppy hat and hot pants combination very much.

J.Lo: Thank you. I design for curves. I’m Latina.

Nanny: Yes, I know.

J.Lo: That reminds me, are you willing to leave anonymous hate messages on the answerphones of Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey?

Nanny: Yes. I wouldn’t bother with Gloria though. Maybe Shakira.

J.Lo: Make a note of that, guys. But this interview shouldn’t be all about me. How selfish! What do you think of Oprah Winfrey?

Nanny: I think she’s America’s African Queen.

J.Lo: Then I want you to look after my twinnies. Welcome.

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On this street where I live

I have walked slowly, run fast, cycled drunk
and sat on the pavement
Bumped into friends, laughed with strangers, screamed at a rat
and cried on the phone
Played football, blown bubbles, earned parking tickets
and posted bags of mail
Watched a bomb disposal team, engaged in road rage
and witnessed a car accident
Viewed a flat, visited a school, invited myself into a living room
and had my aura cleansed by a Serbian political dissident

I have escaped 1 burglary, protested 2 planning applications
and been evacuated at 2 in the morning for 2 days following a major gas leak
Reported a fire hazard to a resident, a burst water pipe to the authorities
and had a hydrant explode under my car
Held my son in an ambulance, had my car alarm disabled by the police
and the electrics investigated by the fire brigade after a flood

In under 10 years I’ve known of over 10 people who once lived here
while over 10 neighbours have moved away

And in an identity parade I could positively identify- but not name-
precisely 3 people and a baby

3 people and a baby

On this street where I live

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Katie Cruise and her yum yums

Rumour has it that, in an attempt to waste away, Mrs. Cruise has started to engage in bizarre eating rituals, like eating toast with a knife and fork.

When she was still on Dawsons Creek it is reasonable to assume she studied the Big Girls in their hit movies to see at which directors she should be fluttering her eyelashes.

So she will definitely have seen Sleeping with the Enemy and knows that faking her disappearance is the only way out of her Freddy Krueger marriage.

I say Top Marks! for innovative thinking and would like to offer her a few more techniques to avoid the ingestion of calories:

1.

Put your plate of food on the other side of the table so that even with your utensils held in the tips of your fingers, extended on the end of your outstretched arms, you fail to secure that spoonful of cottage cheese.

Better yet, indulge yourself and fill the plate with banoffi pie and lard.

2.

Call an English friend- say, Posh- and ask her who Kenny Everett was and how you may be able to get hold of his large, foam hands with which to eat your dinner.

These will make the knife and fork episode seem like fine dining.

Further, watch her steal your idea and judge her.

3.

Go to a restaurant with pictures of the food. When the waiter comes, say this:

‘I’d like number 12 please. No, not the food represented in number 12 but picture number 12 cut out and put on a plate. Tell the press about this and I’ll have you knee-capped.’

4.

Sneak in behind Renee Zellweger when she next goes for a Bridget Jones audition. Knock her sideways with a mean comment such as this:

‘Do you think Catherine Zeta-Douglas has a little smirk playing on her lips when she mentions your Best Supporting Actress Oscar?’

Then slip through the door, nail the part and enjoy eating professionally until a role for The Invisible Woman becomes available.

5.

Call Posh and apologise for judging her (2 above).

Tell her you would like some background information on another British institution: the characters from the children’s television show, The Rainbow.

Then go to a fancy dress shop and hire Zippy*.

Put his head over your head before lunchtime and simply draw the zip across after Tom’s finished saying Scientology Grace.

(*buy Bungle too (whole outfit) and store him in the attic, in case none of the plans work)

6.

Go to Yo Sushi! or another gastronomic conveyor belt in the Beverley Hills area and put your lettuce leaf on it.

Ask them to ramp up the speed and try to stab at it every time it passes.

If you send me an Upper Class Virgin Atlantic ticket I will join you because I think this would be fun.

7.

Suck at the teat of Celebrity.

It has 0 calories and will pulverize your identity.

It also has lots of minerals and vitamins and makes you less prone to ear infections.

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Businessman

Last night I had a power dream.

I was a businessman riding rough-shod over the city of New York.

I was trampling over the feelings of thousands of city workers and all the while I had this sick megalomaniacal feeling of dominance, like the more I took advantage of their good natures the more successful I was becoming.

Imagine my surprise when I found the Clipart illustration guys have been having the same dream:

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Anatomy of a song: Dolly

Yesterday, from out of nowhere, I was brutally possessed by a Country and Western-loving demon.

It wanted me to listen to Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

It was relentless. I was not allowed to rest.

It finally had its way when my lovely friend downloaded the track and delivered it in a cab an hour later (having trouble as I do leaving the house/ using the internet for material gain).

My God, the demon was right to be so insistent. This song is Liquid Gold.

Here is why:

‘Dooooooooooo, Doo-Doo’. ‘Doooooooooo, Doo-Doo’.

This is absolutely the best way to start a piece of music. It’s no-nonsense, stall-setting out stuff. It says, ‘I’m that kind of tune. Yeah, mock me if you want but I know who I am and now you want to know me too’.

Then Kenny kicks in like he’s just channel-surfing on the sofa and you caught him bursting into song. Big chocolate-bear Kenny with his safe beard and testosterone socks. You trust this man more than your father. You want to hear what’s on his mind.

It’s a love song- what else?

Then who’s this in the second verse? A bird? A sickly bird who may break with every note? No Way On Earth. It’s Dolly LEGEND Parton. Her breasts alone could run the United States of America. Fragile and sweet as candy but gussied up in waistcoats Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t understand. With a voice close to pain.

But she’s reigning it in: this is Kenny’s gig- for now.

You know it’s on its way. Yes, it’s Coming Home Time, Baby! A Chorus for All Seasons. Smelling like bread. Wearing a cashmere scarf. Stuffing marshmallows into its face.

It’s got harmony. It’s got chords. It’s had three grown Bee Gees licking each other’s armpits in a tiny studio to get right.

I’m so lost in the moment I don’t know which part to sing to. Am I high or low? Man or woman?

What a crazy-fool question- the chorus makes them One: Kenny and Dolly in full healthy heterosexual vocal snog. Giving a great big soft leather hug to the 80s and wisely closing with a made-up word that appears in the printed lyrics:

‘We can rely on each other aha,
From one lover to another aha.’

Oh God, I’m thinking, don’t let it end yet.

Well, do songs end on exquisite key changes? You can bet your life they do not.

It’s Dolly and she’s Taking Over. Seems she was just Warming Up. Now she’s on Fire. Kenny’s become back-up.

Go, Dolly, go!

More chorus, followed by teasing instrumental and Dolly wailing, ‘Come sail away with me’, like a giant yoyo wrapping round my soul.

And who would have thought of so many ingenious ways to keep playing with form? A slight raised note here, holding a word longer there. It could just keep going on and on forever.

And so it does, in Country and Western Heaven. If I pray to God He may just let me in.

The demon is exorcised but Dolly’s on iTunes to stay.

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