Saturday, 12 April 2008

Black coffee

I am drinking black coffee. This is never a good sign, and usually indicates one of two undesirable things:

  1. I have a looming deadline and need to sustain wakefulness for longer than is strictly good for me;
  2. I have run out of milk.
Today, it's the second reason which applies.

I spent two hours after leaving the boathouse this morning having lunch and coffee with a pair of sisters with whom I used to play in a youth orchestra in Sheffield. I have recently re-established contact with the elder of the two, who has taken to working in the chemistry department in which I did my PhD, and consequently we now have a number of mutual chemist friends, and the younger of the pair rows at one of the more serious Hammersmith clubs. Other than catching the odd glimpse of her hanging over the balcony of her club following what I presume by her general appearance and demeanour to be have been a mammoth erg, or passing by her crew on the river, I haven't seen her for perhaps ten years.

She is rather more robust-looking than she was a decade ago. I imagine I am, also.

Time passed quickly and easily, catching up over toasted sandwiches and cappuchinos at a nearby cafe, touching on old haunts, old friends, places we've lived in or visited since our youth orchestra days. It was when the elder sister was describing to me the location of the Sheffield pub she'd recently bought a pint in for £1.60 that I started to realise how much time had passed. The conversation when something like this:

"It's The Harley - you go along Glossop Road, past Loch Fyne"
"What Loch Fyne on Glossop Road? Come to think of it, what Loch Fyne in Sheffield?"
"Oh, used to be Hanrahan's - on the right as you go into town."
"Oh, right, gotcha."
"Well, it's on that corner where the tram comes up, opposite Pizza Volante - The pizza parlour formerly known as The Flying Pizza, before there was a gun-related incident in the car park, or something like that..."
"Next to the Midland bank?"
"Yeah, well, it's HSBC now"
"Yeah, course..."
"Well, there - it was £1.60 a pint. That's what I used to pay when I was a teenager and drinking in Sheffield. It's the same price now - like going back in time..."

It was at this point in the conversation that I went into shock at the realisation that I was participating in one of those conversations which my parents used to have with their friends about How Places Have Changed And How Things Aren't Like How They Used To Be. I was horrified.

I was also horrified earlier this week to spy the clump of grey hairs sprouting around my hairline. They are rapidly multiplying. This is serious. No longer can I pretend to be young. I really am an adult. People who used to be far too young for me to be seen socialising with are now my contemporaries and fully-fledged adults in their own right. They show all the signs of being adults, such as working for a living in responsible jobs, drinking alcohol in moderation and only on weekends, and no doubt eating their green veg without being bribed. They probably like the tastes of olives, celery, and Stilton and finish meals with an espresso rather than an ice-cream sundae. I am ageing beyond the point at which I feel a part of the Spring.

In another sign of ageing, I am becoming scatty. Whilst I was aware I needed to pick up milk on my way home (and had ear-marked as the place to do this the newsagent next to the cafe in which quite by chance I found myself having lunch), in my haste to run home through the hail and flee the evidence of ageing, I completely forgot to buy milk.

I am drinking black coffee. It is never a good sign.



P.S. I cannot believe the number of typos I have had to correct in this post. I hesitate to add a P.S. as I assume I will introduce yet more of the accursed things.

18 comments:

hypoglycemiagirl said...

Yeah, we all turn into our parents sooner or later...

I guess I don't mind too much becoming adult (although I hate the alcohol-in-moderation aspect) and I love black coffee, but it has to be strong.

Pixie said...

hummm, grey hairs, wait till your my age and there won't be one grey... well not after I've dyed it anyway!
Rather like the take on it being a blonde moment rather than a senior one when forgetting the milk. But maybe that's also an age thing!!!
pxx

But Why? said...

Hypoglycemiagirl,
I actually like the adult thing, but the slow inevitable gravitation towards becoming my parents (and they their parents, and so on) means, as far as I can tell, that I'll end up either miserable or doolally. I think I'd prefer the latter - she seems happy enough...

Pixie,
It's never a blonde moment with me - so in one way I'm rather pleased to have the increasing seniority to blame my occasional moments on. On the flip side, I keep trying to squeeze more out of my waking moments, when I suspect time better spent would be an extra hour or so's kip each day(!)

KindaBlue said...

Come on, Doctor - positive mental attitude! We're of the same generation, and I still feel in the full flush of youth(ish).

In the words of Douglas Adams, "time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so."

I'm typing this with a stout cafetiere full of even stouter coffee on my desk, by the way.

Reading the Signs said...

It gets worse, But Why - but at a certain point you won't be mentioning it - gets too close to home or something. It is comforting to know that there is/will always be coffee. I'm on a caffeine-free regime right now. But I'll be back, love the stuff.

But Why? said...

Signs,
It has got worse (not the ageing - the lack of milk). It seems that my milk turning to yoghurt was an early indication that the fridge/freezer has given up on life altogether. I feel bereaved at the though of my slowly warming jumbo prawns. With no means to stop the inevitable putrification, and them already being beyond the point at which I would risk it, it seems such a senseless waste of life (not to mention cash...).

Sigh. It turns out that I have alo aged since I wrote the post. It seems life is but a slow descent towards inevitable equilibration and putrification...

Random Reflections said...

One of my greatest concerns in life is running out of milk (despite a shop being five minutes walk away from where I live).

At work I use powdered milk, which most people seem to think must be horrible but doesn't taste any different to me - but the lumps you sometimes get floating in your cuppa can be a bit off-putting.

At home I carefully monitor milk levels to avert any crises. Once in the last few weeks, despite planning on buying milk because I had actually run out, I dashed home from the station it having slipped my mind the moment I stepped off the train. My own senior moment.

But Why? said...

Kindablue,
I am most terribly sorry for apparently ignoring you earlier. I was practising for when I become old and forgetful, and it was also very early. Yes, thankfully, I have a whole rang of excuses for that one.

Well, lucky you for feeling youthful. I imagine if you'd just had the conversatory experience I'd been through, you'd have felt aged and wizened, too...

Random,
I rarely run out of milk, but the effects of being without are sufficiently severe that I live under a cloud of fear that it shall one day come to pass. And so it did. I am traumatised, Random. And it appears you too are having your own lack-of-milk-related crises. Perhaps a support group is in order for sufferers of premature senior moments?

weenie said...

LOL - totally identify with your ageing comments - unfortunately it's a battle that we will all lose eventually.

Me, I know I'm going to grow old disgracefully though! :-)

Nice blog btw.

DJ Kirkby said...

I came over here still giggling over the comment you left on my post and am now in a state of near breathless laughter induced hysteria after reading this post. I have to go to the dentist in a minute...if I keep giggling in the chair she will think I have gone mad-der! I've got lots of grey (well silver I like to tell myself) and I am proud of them all, I've earned them and I don't dye them!

Rob Clack said...

First, put a pint of milk in the freezer. We only use skimmed, which freezes well. Semi is OK, too, but I've not tried full fat. Yuk! Can't bear it!

Second, if the light comes on but the fridge doesn't work, it's probably the thermostat. You can buy a generic thermostat for about £15 from The Fridge Shop. I got next day delivery when I did. It took me half an hour to fit, which I assume you'd beat easily.

But Why? said...

Weenie,
Hello. Welcome, and thankyou for your very kind comments. I'm fighting the drive towards equilibrium every step of the way, but then sometimes things like this happen, and I realise it's a losing battle. Mind you, reality has never stopped me before...

DJ,
Hi. Good to see you. I was likewise breathless over at your place, but at the sheer simple genius of your third son (btw I had to hurridly correct my earlier typo of "sin"). Hair dye will not be putting in an appearance in my bathroom - for one thing, I have not the space for another bottle of stuff in there, and secondly, I like my hair colour. It's fantastic. And when it's slightly greyer, it will be fantastic and distinguished. What more could a girl want?

Rob C,
Sadly my fridge and freezer form a combined entity, and are collectively ex-cooling devices. Freezing milk has been a long-known trick in the Why? family, and even that yellow hue adopted by the frozen white stuff can't put us off. I've not frozen full-fat stuff though. I only buy it in dire emergencies as I'm too used to the taste and consistency of semi.

This is the second time in a couple of months that the fridge/freezer has given up the ghost - last time because all the ammonia had escaped, and I wouldn't put money on it not being the same problem this time. Coupling the repair bill with the value of the lost food, it's sadly probably going to prove more economical to replace the fridge than repair it.

trousers said...

Welcome to your first steps into the kind of territory I realise I've been occupying for some time ;-)

I recall going into the supermarket and coming out with some lovely steaks, vegetables and various other ingredients and having them with a really well-cooked onion gravy...very tasty stuff. Late at night as I went to clean my teeth, I remembered I'd only gone to the supermarket to get toothpaste, and that was the one thing I hadn't come back with.

As for grey hair - I'm getting plenty of it, but I'm thankful that I've still got a full head of hair!

And I'm still shocked that people who were not yet born when Adam and the Ants dominated the charts with "Dog Eat Dog" and "Kings of the Wild Frontier" are not only now full grown adults, but not especially young adults either.

Oh, and I can't see the point if you can't hear the words.

Alright, that last bit wasn't true.

But Why? said...

Trousers,
Thanks for the reassurance - glad to know it's possible to live through this ageing malarky. I find it worrying that I work with some people who weren't even born by the time I'd learned to tie my shoelaces....

And what if it has no words? Is it ultimately pointless?

Anonymous said...

I had a similar conversation recently with a friend. This time about learning to write at Primary School and how this has changed since 'we were small'. We were reminiscing about when you used to start with a pencil and then feel so proud that you were allowed to move onto a fountain pen. Of course, at the beginning the fountain pens still involved using the old suction cartridges and a bottle of ink. Suffice to say that we suddenly realised the other people sitting at the same table were giving us some really weird looks and then burst into uncontrollable laughter... Ah well, each to his own childhood decade!

But Why? said...

Anon,
Ah, being trusted with pens - a rite of passage if ever there was one!

Do they still learn to use non-electronic writing implements at school, or are they presented with their own roll-up USB keyboard when they join kindergarten?

Tom Foolery said...

Maybe the answer is to buy a cow, can't be too difficult to milk can it? Hmmmm on second thoughts. maybe not ;-) TF

But Why? said...

TF,
Welcome, and what a fantastic plan - the only drawback being that in lieu of a garden I have a roof terrace, and I'm not convinced there's enough green stuff available for a cow to graze on. That, and it would mean getting the cow up two flights of stairs. Perhaps a goat would be more feasible...?