I’ve been having a few more thoughts about tea and coffee. Here are some of my favourite (or not-so-favourite) ways to get my caffeine.
The Nursing Home Coffee: this is the original Bad Caffeine Moment. When I worked in a nursing home I’d regularly do twelve hour shifts and have to get up at half six three days a week, which at the age of eighteen was even worse for me than it would be now. In a twelve hour shift you get a total of one hour break (nominally) although if you don’t just walk away mid-morning, you don’t get your allotted break, so morning break would more usually be in between wheeling one resident into breakfast, and going up to the room of the next, and would go something like this: dip into kitchen, grab mug, hope none of the nursing staff are around (despite being allotted a break they would usually tell you off for actually taking it, no matter that they were only there because they’d just nipped out for a fag or whatever), fill it a third full of instant coffee, followed by a quarter of sugar and a quarter of boiling water. Stir. Add milk. Taste. If lukewarm, down. If any hotter, tip a little away and add more milk. Believe me when I say that that quantity of instant coffee is rough and you need the sugar for energy and to make the whole thing palateable and if it’s not something you can down instantly you will not make it through the mug. So you add more milk until you can down it. Then you do so. Then you run to the next room and keep going (if you can stuff a few broken custard creams into your mouth at the same time this won’t go amiss).
The Yoga Tea: This follows the same principle. I don’t take brilliantly to starting the day without a cup of tea if I’m getting up early enough to go to yoga. It used to be the case that I literally couldn’t start the day without a cup of tea and a cafetiere of coffee and these days the only day on which I really feel the lack of tea is on yoga days. I don’t often get time even to do this particularly lovely variant on the idea of tea, but on the rare occasions when I do, the boiling water and the teabag barely make an acquaintance before they’re sleepily thrashed with the nearest teaspoon-like object (pen, fork, even the lid of a milk bottle will do) to get out as much actual tea as possible in the amount of time it takes to get the lid of the milk bottle off with my teeth – and yes, sleepy tea-thrashing is a possibility, teabag removed, milk and cold water added, down, leave. It tastes like what it is – lukewarm water and milk, with the merest and most horrible hint of tea – but it does the trick.
I Am A Student And There Are Never Any Teaspoons: This has led me, obviously, to stir my tea with any number of peculiar objects. The first time you do it in first year you immediately think ‘I’m eating scrambled egg, from a shoe, with a comb’ and then, ‘dirty’ (Black Books. Watch it); then you have temporary Withnail & I type delusions about things living in the sink. And then you get used to stirring your tea with pens, forks, knives, milk bottle lids, paper (quick! before it disintegrates! always fun). However I reached an utter low point about a week ago when, in abject laziness (and anyway what does happen to those teaspoons?) I grabbed the knife I’d just used to butter some bread, stirred my tea with it… and ended up with a veritable buttery oil slick on my tea. If you thought either of the above sounded rough (and they are), this is infinitely worse. Definitely not one to repeat.
As for the teaspoons, they disappear. They are not in the drawer, they are not in the sink, or either side of the draining board. They simply disappear into the ether. And then, every few weeks, suddenly there are billions of the fuckers on the draining board or on the drawer with no rhyme nor reason – the washing up situation is absolutely unchanged but suddenly there is cutlery. This is a mystery almost on a par with how I have the same volume of socks as I started the year with; but now, none of them actually match, and this is not becuase of my shoddy approach to colour sorting in the wash – there is no way that they were any of them originally part of a pair with any other of them. What happens?