Strong and Dark, Like My Men


I like George Clooney.

No, you read that right. I don’t look like George Clooney, (hush now, I really don’t) it’s simply that I like George Clooney. Three Kings is a lovely film. Out of Sight is a joy to watch, with a soundtrack to die for. I could watch Syriana on a loop.

No there’s nothing wrong with Mr C. At least not much.

My mum & dad are at the age when, like a lot of fortunate pensioners, they find themselves incapable of not buying stuff. Anything. “The kids (me) are off our hands, the house is paid for, we’ve had three holidays this year, so if we can afford it, we’re gonna buy it.” My mum likes George Clooney too. She also likes a nice cup of coffee. She likes a gadget.

Imagine, therefore, her reaction a couple of years ago, when George started advertising Nespresso coffee machines on TV. “OOOHH !!!, Lummmie, Jerry”, she’d have exclaimed to my dad. “Lets leg it down the frog&toad, sparrows, and snap up one of dem little beauties, and no mistake, matey boy” she’d have barked. (She doesn’t really speak like that, but I gather it’s how many of you think she may do).

Spilt at Birth: George and the Author enjoy a boys night out.

Split at Birth: George Clooney (left) and the Author enjoy a boys night out.

During the year that followed any visitors to the Bealing snr household would be welcomed at the threshold with a cup (and a saucer) of any one of a dozen different blends of Nespresso coffee, made in Jerry & Sheila’s new coffee machine. Passing tradesmen, Jehovas Bystanders and prospective burglars have all ‘enjoyed’ a cup of coffee made in mum & dad’s Nespresso coffee machine. I have been one of those visitors on many an occasion. I would be handed a cup almost before I took my jacket off, and often against my will.

Christmas is a worrying time for my parents. They have known me for the worst part of 50 years and as time passes I get, apparently, harder and harder to buy for. “What do you give someone who moans at everything ?” Dad once asked.

So, almost inevitably, one Christmas they bought me and The Incumbent a coffee machine. A Nespresso by Krups XN300540 Pixie Coffee Machine, to be precise. That was a lovely gesture on their part, I thought. Far too generous (especially compared to the plant dibber I’d just given them), but a lovely gift nevertheless. I like a cup of coffee (ok, it’s not Tea, but a nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat) and a nice cup of coffee is always preferable to a non-nice cup. This gadget would enable me to make us a nice cup of coffee whenever we wanted, especially if I could work out how to produce a nice hot cup of coffee — something that my parents had either failed to work out how to do, or refused to do, fearing hot coffee would melt both dad’s and my dentures.

Shortly after returning home to the Potting Shed, I decided to Christen our new gift. Following each and every instruction in the pamphlet provided I measured out the milk, heated it for the required time, selected the requisite setting for the amount and strength of drink I liked and prepared two mugs of coffee for us. Two luke warm cups of coffee. They’d taken several minutes to prepare, several seconds to drink. Disappointing. Not catastrophic, but disappointing. I tried again, several times, all to no avail. By following each and every instruction I could only manage a cup of java which, while not repulsive and un-servable, was just not…erm… how do I put it?… not how I wanted it: HOT. 

Some people like sugar in their tea, some like Iced Coffee, some drink what they erroneously called “herbal tea“. I like a hot cup of tea, and a hot cup of coffee. I got round it by heating the milk in a microwave —for 3 minutes, 40 seconds for 2 cups-worth — which, although did get us to the desired temperature beverage, wasn’t quite the point , was it ? My parents had forked out for a flash kitchen gadget. Why doesn’t it do what it should do ? I asked the Nespresso company who suggested heating up the mugs beforehand. Didn’t work. They couldn’t help me further.

George admires his display of                                  Sharp Single Coffee Club ties.

George admires his display of Sharp Single Coffee Club Cravats.

I didn’t want to appear too ungrateful to mum & dad (they already knew of my coffee/heat issues), and even if I had moaned about it, it was nothing short of what they’d expect of me. But I thought I ought to bring this problem to the attention of the wider world. I should do my duty as a citizen and warn my fellow man of the terrors of tepid coffee. “I’ll blog about it” I thought, but decided against it as you’d have to be a real dullard to enjoy a long rambling blog about a coffee machine. So I decided to find the item on Amazon and offer my opinion. I thought I’d be polite, informative, helpful and, for a change, witty:

“Nespresso by Krups XN300540 Pixie Coffee Machine, Titanium (Kitchen & Home)

The Sharp Single says:

I was bought one by my parents for Christmas this year. Not sure why, really, because I’d not expressed a desire to own one, and had never had a hot cup of coffee from their machine since they’d had it (about a year) but had assumed they were doing something wrong (they are quite elderly and are apt to getting instructions wrong on most things). I here and now apologise to my parents. This machine doesn’t make a hot cup of coffee. You try everything (even the rather desperate suggestion of “warming the cups as Nespresso recommend) and yet all you get is a warm cup which is not something you sip on, but gulp down. Some people must like warm coffee, but not me. I like a hot cup. Not a microwaved, McDonalds several-degrees-hotter-then-the-sun-hot, but a drink that gives the impression it might once have been made somewhere in the vacinity of boiling milk or water. But this is something different. Something that takes several minutes to make, seconds to drink. How very disappointing. I suppose I can wait until summer and make iced coffees, but that’s not really the point, is it ? I’m feeling very deflated and very let down. If I’d have bought it I’d have asked for my money back, but it was a gift so I feel very mean in saying so. But I guess someone ought to say something. Poor show.”

Well, unless you were the owner of Nespresso, the inventor of the coffee machine or were so bored that you had nothing better to do with your life except make idiotic comments on anything or everything you read on the internet, you’d leave it at that, wouldn’t you ?

No such luck.  Here come the comments: First up, Rosie who suggests I must have a physical deformity:

RosieB says:

 I’ve just ordered a new Pixie, but made curious by your review, I’ve just made a cup of coffee from our 6-year-old Essenza with my kitchen thermometer to hand…A lungo cup, measures 60 degrees immediately after pouring. I don’t know about the lining of your mouth, but this seems to be plenty hot enough for most people! Interestingly, I’ve just measured my husbands tea and it’s 55!”

Then a Doctor writes. I have stupidly been drinking my coffee at the wrong temperature:

“Dr. William Scullion says:

Coffee is not meant to be piping hot , I remember reading somewhere to make the perfect cup of espresso the water should be 68deg centigrade (from memory) . While I enjoy piping hot tea I prefer my coffee not quite so hot . In a similar way I prefer white wine chilled but red at room temp or lightly chilled.”
And finally a helpful hint. or not.
“mr tom nixon says:

Have you tried, as suggested by someone else, putting hot water in the feeder tub at the back of the machine?”

I should have let sleeping cats lie, I know. But you probably realise that these type of comments are like red pants to a priest to me. I decided to rejoin the fun. And I let off all three barrels:
“1. The Sharp Single says:

Thank you. Having removed the titanium lining from my mouth I now find the coffee to be so much nicer and hotter. MmmmmmmmmM! !! What was I thinking ?? Thank you for pointing out that I cannot tell the difference between hot and warm. I can sleep soundly now.”
“2. The Sharp Single says:
What a fool I have been. You are correct, it is my fault for liking piping hot coffee. Thank you Doctor.”
“3. The Sharp Single says:
 I haven’t but I will. So I need to boil the kettle, then pour the boiled water into the back of the coffee machine? Worth every penny then.”
It seems there are some people out there who are not familiar or even keen on my brand of humour. This bloke decided to chip in:
T. Jacobs says:

Your petulant little remarks really are telling. Maybe spoil Christmass next year and insist your parents buy you that pony. I am definitely now getting a nespresso!”
That’ll teach me: He’s gonna buy his own machine !  Oh well, I had it coming, I guess.
I have replied to T.Jacobs, but I fear it could get out of hand. I’ve already been called “petulant” and that’s gone far enough I reckon. This is exactly how the Korean War started (the first one) .
Please feel free to send in your comments to Amazon. Just don’t send them to me.
.
I’m gonna put the kettle on.
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4 thoughts on “Strong and Dark, Like My Men

  1. “T. Jacobs says:
    Your petulant little remarks really are telling. Maybe spoil Christmass next year and insist your parents buy you that pony. I am definitely now getting a nespresso!”

    Hahahahahahahaha. Oh that’s marvellous. Served cold, like your coffee !

  2. You might want to lose the photo in the stripey vest with the swimming cap on old son, you look a little like Paul Gadd there !

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