Coffee and Pandas

Cute PandaOk, so the app production line has been eerily silent for the past couple of months, I’d have to admit. I have been developing a concept that I thought was quite unique and froody – but then saw that there was not just one app, but a whole genre of apps that essentially were based on the same root idea. And what is more, they sucked.

So, back to the drawing board. Although I was out at ‘Zizzi’ in Kenilworth last night having a rather pleasant Italian in some rather pleasant company and happened across the germ of an idea that was, in a nutshell, rather pleasant. Or at least it will be when I have figured out how to do it.

So that leaves me at something of a loose end as to what to write on the blog just now. Earlier in the week I had a rather pleasant evening in Leamington at ‘Voodoo’. Actually, you know what – it wasn’t pleasant, because nothing pleasant ever happens at Voodoo. In fact, it was more of an entertaining evening in the fun-fun-fun sense of the word. I happened across a leaving do for an old friend who had a dozen or so other old friends along to see him off. Why is it that friends don’t get younger? Something to do with the uni-directional Shott vector on the space-time inversion axis I suspect. Anyway, Martin Favor was one of these friends and he gently grabbed my by the lapels and politely asked why I hadn’t done any blog entries recently. Now there’s an avid fan for you.

To be fair to Martin, he was not the first to remark on the blog. I’ve literally had an email demanding to know when the next issuance will be forthcoming. It was from Nick Dyer. Thank’s Nick – if ever I am famous, you will be on the VIP list. I will do my best not to confuse this with the RIP list or things might turn out bad.

Anyway, I finally hit upon and idea for this entry. As with most things when trying to actually do something or think of something – I decided to get a coffee.

That was the idea, by the way – get a coffee.

Now most people wander up to a coffee machine and press a button (sometimes two or even three on the posh ones), get their coffee and wander off again. Occasionally, they are pressed in to polite conversation that will cover either:

  1. The weather
  2. What happened on the weekend
  3. What is going to happen on the next weekend
  4. What the weather was like on either the preceding or will be on the next weekend
  5. What day of the week it is and why this is a good or bad thing (…including weather)
  6. How bad the coffee is.

Technically, it is a complete social taboo to talk about anything other than these things. You probably don’t even realise that you are conforming to these social norms.

“Ah Ha!”, I hear you say (though not actually as that would mean I was stalking you or the placing of listening devices), “but I was talking about football at the coffee machine – so there!”.

Uh huh? And when exactly did this football take place? Did you, by any chance, happen to mention the weather too – and, come to think of it, this coffee is pretty awful, isn’t it?

I like to think that I am a bit of a maverick – not constrained by social norms. Having absolutely no regard for convention I set it in my mind to get a coffee and to break the rules. Ok, hardly trail blazing stuff – but I am sure that even Monty Python had to start somewhere. You don’t think they were able to openly discuss taxidermy in public without first hazarding the use of a spoon instead of a fork for the consumption of peas, do you?

But how to break this mould – what could I do at a coffee machine that hadn’t ever been done before? Thinking like you are doing right now might get me arrested – and remember this was just a first step, right?

So first I had to approach the coffee machine. The plan extended about as far as that – walk to the machine.

I was in luck – there were two people I knew at the coffee machine. How terrifying might it have been if someone unknown was lurking there. I mean, a stranger might not exactly react predictably. Which isn’t to say that a friend would – only they would have the context of the rest of my unusual behaviour with which to place this event. This has the reassuring effect of cushioning the impact of social anarchism on their psyche – and quite possibly averting brain damage.

I approached the coffee machine and steeled myself for the radical.

“I hear the weather is going to be good this weekend”, my friend proffered.

My mind raced.

“Yeah”, I reply, “better than last weekend. Thank goodness it’s Thursday – how’s the coffee?”

Damn, damn, damn, damn…

2 thoughts on “Coffee and Pandas”

  1. Mark, – you suffer from a major disadvantage when trying to address taboos. You are too young. Once upon a time, it was quite acceptable, even desireable, to talk about a wider range of topics.

    For example, the younger male members of the office would comment freely upon what the younger female members of the office were wearing, especially during summer.

    Even then though, there were social pressures. You would phrase your appreciation somewhat differently if the relevant young lady, or one of her associates, were in earshot. Otherwise, you might find that getting photocopying done was more difficult.

    1. Ah, the good old days…. before they took away the tea lady, installed machines, took away the machines, installed Baristas and charged you £5 for frothy coffee. For most circles in IT, this ended somewhere between the seventies and the eighties – but in engineering circles I’m not sure that they are ready to let go of it all just yet.

      I take it that when referring to problems with photocopying after commenting on a young ladies finery you mean the problems feeing in the sheets to to the sheet feeder when someones face is wedged in the collator? It’s always a right bugger to clear too because you have to take the toner out before you can unwrap their tie from the roller. Some kids will never learn, huh?

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