vrijdag 15 november 2013


Our driver parked the coach skillfully between two other coaches and told us we had forty minutes to enjoy a refreshment at the service center right in front of us. So the old and almost old people (like us) got out and walked with or without walking stick and zimmer frame towards the shops and cafes. There were two cafes: one that sold cheap coffee of a brand I never heard about before and one that sold Costa coffee.
The cafe selling the cheap coffee was overcrowded so we chose for Costa.

We found one of the last available free tables and my wife occupied the two chairs that we wanted to use. In the meantime I joined the queue. There were quite a lot of people in front of me, but the staff of Costa proved to be quite good at the job so I neared them quite soon.
The last people in front of me were a woman in her fifties and what looked like her mother. They both had the same very broad hips that were made even more visible by their winter coats.

The daughter had a look on the display behind the young men who formed the staff. She began to make weird gestures, it was obvious that she became nervous. When I looked at what she must have been seeing, I could imagine her problem. She wanted coffee, but only at the top of the list was the work Coffee.
And then followed the different types of coffee: cappuccino, latte, americano and so on.

Finally she spoke out: "I want coffee!"
The young man asked: "What type of coffee would you like, madam?"
She got red faced: "Coffee!"
He suggested: "Maybe cappuccino? Like that lady has over there?"
She hissed: "I don't want milk! I want coffee!"
He sighed: "Espresso?"
In the meantime she was checking the price list.
She was curious: "What do I get when I order espresso?"
He showed her an espresso cup.

Immediately she became furious!
"You think I'm daft or what? For that price you get that? Are you taking the piss?!!"
He tried to explain: "But..."
"Come on Ma! This a complete rip off. A couple of robbing bastards!"
While they were walking away, I heard "Ma" stepping in: "Ridiculous!"

It was my turn.
The young man looked almost desperately at me.
"Two double espresso, please", I said.
I heard a deep sigh and he started to work on my order.

dinsdag 5 november 2013

Mind Games

On every stop we made new people would join our group in the coach travelling towards Devon. The last addition was near Bristol.  It was three elderly women who all took a seat next to one that remained vacant.
Near us one got seated. She obviously didn't have her teeth in which gave her the possibility to touch her chin with her nose. It made her look a bit retarded to say the least.

She fumbled with the safety belt which you are required to use nowadays. After a few minutes she gave up and growled something like "You do it!" to me. It sounded a bit rude, but coming from an elderly lady  I couldn't refuse to do this for her. So I clicked her in safely and also showed her the armrest. It took a little trick to put that in the right position. She didn't thank me, not even a nod was given.

The ride took hours and most people used this time to read, puzzle, eat, drink or sleep. I  tried to do a crossword puzzle but gave up on this because of the sudden movements the coach made on this part of the journey. Putting letters on the right spot proved to be a bit difficult like that.
My eyes were drawn to the left where the old woman was sitting. She was playing a sort of game with her hands on her legs. She started on her thighs and moved them separately towards her knees. And then one of the hands won and she would start again.

After some time I lost interest and tried to read a bit. The landscape that appeared withdrew my attention from the book and I looked out of the window for some time. England sure was prettier than I had always thought!
A muffled sound made me look to the old lady again. She was sort of drumming on her legs, alternating with the seat in front of her and with the armrest. She had no earphones on, the radio on the coach was off.
She must have had a song in her head and she drummed along like she was the drummer of a rock band.

An hour later we made a stop at a service center. The driver gave us one hour to have coffee or such. To make things very clear he said: "Be back at 3:45; a quarter 'til four!"
"Wha?" the old woman shouted. The driver repeated what he said. "Wha?" she yelled again.
So he shouted the mentioned time in her ear and tried to point it out on his watch in front of her.
She nodded and walked along with the rest towards Costa Coffee.