Monday, December 05, 2005

Competition Corner

Are you feeling lucky? Well are you? If so, I thought we’d try a wee competition today with a fabulous prize at stake so have your pens/keyboard fingers at the ready as I outline the rules.

Every Sunday afternoon around five o’clock, I file my column (not sure I’m too comfortable with that turn of phrase) with the Daily Record. The sub-editors at the newspaper check it for spelling and grammar and such like and then add a snappy, eye-catching headline with a view, presumably, to summing up the content in a few short words and leaving the reader wanting to know more.

For example, last week’s article about the imminent reunion of The Signals, the greatest rock ‘n roll band in the world let’s remember, was accompanied by the succinct “Band reunion Signals shock for chart rivals.” Note the clever use of the band name now turned into a verb.

The week before when I was outlining my audition process for potential lodgers, the prose was introduced with the slightly deranged-sounding “Don’t bother me – unless you’ve a bikini.”

I have no idea what they’re going to come up with till I read the piece on a Tuesday and to be honest, it’s never crossed my mind to try and suggest a headline. But perhaps you’d like to have a go.

So reproduced below is the article I submitted yesterday (and yes, I admit I stole most of it from a post here months ago) so you now have a full 24 hours to come up with an appropriate headline. If, like me, you can read this at work but cannot access Blogger, you can always submit your answer to You can enter as many times as you like and the winner will be the one I choose to be the winner based on whatever winning criteria I come up with later today.

As for the fabulous prize – a full week’s free lodging in my spare room, no bikinis required.

Starting my Christmas shopping at 10am on the first Saturday in December seemed like such a great idea at the time. There was still three full weeks till the big day, I surmised, so the shops wouldn’t be too busy yet. And even though I hadn’t made a list or put any thought into what I was going for, I was confident that inspiration would be forthcoming and I would acquire all I needed in a quick couple of hours.

By 10.30am however, I had abandoned all hopes of ever shopping again and had retreated to the safe confines of a famous multinational coffee retailer in an attempt to temper a strong desire to punch my fellow shoppers.

I have to say at this point that I’m a complete sucker for the coffee experience provided by this famous multinational retailer. Many’s the time I’ve wiled away an hour or four in their outlets throughout the world, seduced by the heady combination of sipping overpriced beverages and listening to Norah Jones.

The urge to indulge is especially potent at this time of year as they tempt you inside with their limited edition festive flavours – the choca toppa mocha with a hint of holly and reindeer is a particular favourite.

Here in the UK, we still appear a little unschooled in the nuances of ordering our drinks. Not surprising really when you realise that with all the different sizes, flavourings and number of espresso shots, there are 190,000 possible permutations of the coffee experience to be had. One thing is consistent however – the average male customer in this country seems totally devoid of the necessary etiquette to order a coffee successfully. They come in all shapes and guises.

There’s the first-time bluffer who ignores the menu board and tries to bluster his way through the ordering process, usually at a high volume.


As soon as he’s paid, he instantly forgets what it was he ordered and will grab the first exotic sounding drink he hears called out at the other end of the counter. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to wrench my coffee from the sweaty hands of this over-eager idiot.

At the other end of the customer spectrum there’s the nervous male customer who scrutinises the menu board for an interminable amount of time but then loses heart and whispers, “Em, just this bottle of water please... and a chocolate muffin.”

Lying somewhere between the two is the guy I witnessed on Saturday who wants to try the coffee experience but doesn’t quite know where to start.

Barista: “Yes sir, what can I get you?”
Man: “I’d like one of your caffè lattes please, white not black.”
Barista: “The latte IS white sir. It’s made with steamed milk.”
Man: “Really? That’s fine then.”
Barista: “For here or to go?”
Man: “Em, yes. Right away if you don’t mind.”
Barista: “What size would you like?”
Man: “Eh, small thanks.”
Barista: “A tall?”
Man: “No, no just that little cup there.”
Barista: “That’s a tall sir. It’s the smallest size we have for a latte.”
Man: “Oh right. On second thoughts I’ll just have tea.”

So close and yet so far.

Anyway, after finishing the last of my choca toppa mocha on Saturday I was ready to head for home when inspiration finally arrived. Don’t tell my family but there’s a fair chance they could be opening their parcels on Christmas morning to find a gift or two from the shelves of a famous multinational coffee retailer.


At 5/12/05 7:20 pm, Blogger DC said...



At 5/12/05 9:47 pm, Blogger Lesley said...

"Fancy a coffee...for your Christmas?".

"I'm dreaming of a white no sugar Christmas?"

Best I can do I'm afraid.


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