Really sorry if you got caught in a traffic jam on the M1 this week. It was almost certainly my fault. A virtual pal of mine was in trouble. I had to help.
Panic! he tweeted. Our coffee machine has broken down. We’re having to drink instant Followed by every ‘terrified face’ emoji on the app store…
Now, if you’re in Barnsley or Bolton or Barrow you’d just shrug and carry on. You’d reach for the warranty or your screwdriver and drink instant.
But this poor bloke doesn’t live in any of those beauty spots. Sit down, because this is serious stuff: he lives in the South.
So no coffee machine – having to drink instant – is as bad as it gets.
When the news leaked out the value of his house plummeted faster than a pound coin faced with a Far Eastern trading algorithm. Social isolation was inevitable. “Drinks instant,” they whispered as he walked past…
No wonder he took to Twitter.
Naturally I did what any decent human being would have done. I despatched a team of highly trained specialists. No, not to repair the coffee machine. To provide counselling.
So as I say, sorry if you were stuck on the M1. But you have to pull over for the emergency services.
I’m assuming the situation’s sorted now. My pal – let’s call him Tim because that’s his name – will have breathed a huge sigh of relief, sipped his freshly ground Americano and thought life was back to normal.
Sadly, I have bad news. Weak pun alert – trouble is brewing. Clearly the red wine bottle has been seen south of Watford Gap because Tim has three children. I think the eldest one is about eight; so right now they’ll be drinking juice, milk and the odd can of Coke when the Good Parent Police take a day off. Just like mine did.
I started my coffee journey through life with Nescafe. Then there were the Gold Blend adverts. The gentle seduction of Mellow Birds (shame about the taste). Eventually I reached the dizzy heights of Carte Noire and Alta Rica and ‘barista style’ instant.
But only at work – all thanks to the NCT. My beloved was panting, sweating, swearing and trying to give birth to Tom. I sighed, put my coffee down (‘Dad should take a flask’ they said) and leaned over her with words of love and encouragement – and coffee breath.
“Aaaagggghhhh!” she said, subconsciously associating the smell of coffee with the pain of a contraction.
So for the next 12 or 15 years I didn’t drink much coffee at home. Sip your coffee, kiss your wife, she has a contraction… it wasn’t a fun way to spend the evening.
But then the result of all those contractions reached 16. Started revising for exams. Kept coming downstairs to refuel.
And coffee was emerging from the Dark Ages. Town centres were suddenly so simple. Charity shop, coffee shop, charity shop, coffee shop. And Pact Coffee was sending sexy little brown packages to my office.
El Mirador – Seville orange marmalade. Medium-light roast from Colombia
Villaure Espresso – Plum tart from Guatemala
Tentatively I brought the plum tart home and braced myself for the onslaught of teenage sarcasm.
Tom fell on it with glee. Ben quickly followed. “This is really good, Dad. We need to have this all the time.”
“Yeah, Dad. We’re can’t drink instant any more.”
So that’s the bad news for Tim. A few years from now he’ll have teenagers. Sophisticated, thirsty, expensive-coffee-loving teenagers.
My advice? Take it on the chin. Leave your coffee machine in bits. Bring your children up on instant. Short term pain, long term gain…
I’m now working on a 30,000 word e-book about the 5 day, father/son walk Ben and I did on the Pennine Way: if you’d like to read a few sample chapters before publication, just use the contact form to let me know. In the meantime if you’d like a copy of the ‘laugh out loud’ Best Dad featuring 27 of my favourite columns from all the years I’ve been writing, it’s available here for 99p on your Kindle.