Saturday, November 11, 2006

Starbucks is my pusher

I'm just back from a work thing in Valencia, where it was hot and sunny - more like July than November. That's where we get all our winter tangerines from. Not fair. I was on my own, and without my fella who tends to be more adventurous than me. I end up staying in my hotel room, having room service and watching CNN every night, rather than venture out. My Spanish is limited to about four words, so I just faked understanding by nodding and grunting and using hand gestures or shrugging or saying "I am English. English!" at people.

It's kind of scary how much I need coffee and tea to get through the day. At the conference I was at, a bunch of us had gathered round the coffee urn during the break, and there was a mild panic when we realised it had run out. Someone was dispatched to see if there was more to come. There was only a little bit left, enough for half a cup. I recognised fellow addicts, admitting that they "needed" coffee. When I said I'd had none at all that morning, the others decided to give me precedence and I was allotted the half-cup.

On the way home, on the plane, I started to feel really ill - a bad headache came on, which worsened to a migraine by the time we landed in rainy Heathrow. It was caffine withdrawal. Normally I have about 5 cups of coffee or tea a day. But yesterday, what with one thing or another, I'd ended up having none. I'd slept in late and missed breakfast. I'd meant to get a coffee at the airport, but I had this big wheely suitcase thing and decided not to bother with coffee as I'd probably end up spilling it. Then on the plane itself, you had to pay for coffee, and I was economising so didn't bother. So by the time I got to Heathrow I was a wreck. The longest ever queue to get through immigration... I practically ran to a Costa Coffee, got a big latte and drank it all down. It didn't make the headache go away, so I had to shamefully go back to the counter and order an espresso, which I gulped down immediately, burning my mouth in the process. The headache dulled a little at that point, but not much, so I took a couple of painkillers. I was feeling normal again by the time I got on the coach back to Bristol.

I guess I should try and cut back at some point. But it's a habit I kind of like. It's cheap at least so I don't have to start breaking into people's garages to fund the craving. And it's socially sanctioned. And as I don't drink alcohol or do drugs, I guess it's a pretty tame addiction to have. In a way it's an addiction that's crept up on me without me even noticing it. My fella is a lot worse than me - to use the terminology - we're a pair of co-dependents. There's no way I could get off the coffee unless he does first. Going into a Starbucks, a Cafe Nero or a Costa Coffee makes me feel weirdly relaxed and safe. All that nice dark brown polished wood and the comfy leather chairs. These are the opium dens of the 21st century.

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