Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Continuing with my birdwatching amongst the Costa Shop Regulars.......

Now, this next up is a very strange one..

NAME:   HENRY V                           SPECIES: Middle-age Male

SIGHTING: Common, All year                         CALL: Cappuccino & a blueberry muffin                                                                                                                            
PLUMAGE: Khaki sleeveless utility jacket (lots of pockets) over navy blue jumper
Red/black North Face jacket (looks new)
Blue check wool scarf

A painting which hangs
in the National Gallery
This chap is a recent addition to the Regulars. He has a very odd hairstyle which instantly reminds me of a painting of Henry V which hangs in the National Gallery. The style is like a very short, pudding-basin haircut - actually, it's less of a pudding-basin and more of a cereal bowl. I'm not sure what he asks for when he visits the barber:

Barber:  “Afternoon sir, and what can we do for you today?”

Henry V: “A short, cereal-bowl cut rather like that painting of Henry V which hangs in the National Gallery please.”

Barber:    “Right you are sir. Doing anything nice at the weekend?”

Henry V: “Oh, you know, nothing much. A relaxing coffee in Costas, before popping over to France for a quick siege at Harfleur, maybe a spot of argy-bargy at Agincourt, then back to Calais in time for tea and some duty free luxuries .... normal weekend really"

Or it could be like the ancient joke my father always likes to tell:

I'd like a Henry V please
Barber:  “Afternoon sir, and what can we do for you today?”

Henry V: "I'd like my hair cut like David Beckham please.”

Barber cuts hair into a short cereal-bowl style, rather like that painting of Henry V which hangs in the National Gallery.

Henry V (outraged):  “But that's not how David Beckham has his hair cut”!

Barber: “Well he would if he came in here sir”.

Boom, boom...

But I digress: Henry V's hair is always very neatly combed, even in inclement weather – which is admirable – and he wears little half-glasses to read the paper (unfortunately, another blessed Daily Mail reader). He often cleans his ear out with his little finger.

He is always alone and seems to be in a constant bad mood, which means he comes across as a right old misery guts. In fact, I often feel he looks upon the rest of us mortals with disdain: something inferior and nasty that he has to put up with - a necessary evil of life. He does a sort of  'cutting his eyes' thing over the top of his glasses (usually with a faint sigh) at people who have irritated him and has a withering look that could stun a crying child at 50 paces.

Henry V particularly dislikes being disturbed by noise when he is reading his paper....

Women talking loudly on the other side of the room? Huff.....

Child whinging for attention from indifferent mummies?Glare.....

Mobile phone conversation on the next table? Grrrr..
Have you seen that painting of
Henry V which hangs in
 the National Gallery?
I have wondered if his gripe with the world rests beneath some deep-seated psychological issue, resulting from an unrequited love. Maybe the only woman in the whole universe who could possibly replace his mother as his soul-mate, rejected his amorous advances and ran off with a plumber from the next village. Oh, the injustice..... Of course, the simple reality may be that his Y-fronts are chafing, but who knows? I'm certainly not going to ask him.

He doesn't appear very popular. The staff never ask how he is and although some of the other Regulars smile at him, he never responds. No-one wishes him a 'good morning', but he doesn't seem to mind - in fact, I think he actually prefers it that way.

Next sighting: The Poison Grannies

Monday, 23 January 2012


The Tiara has not been on good form just lately. Life has taken yet another one of its regular wrong turnings and left me up a gum tree with a leaky paddle. First, I thought I would vent my spleen at the injustice of my lot through my blog, but then the vacuum cleaner broke so the Dyson felt the full force of my wrath instead. The result of all this anger is the vacuum cleaner lies a broken piece of revolutionary engineering in the spare room and I am still shouting at whatever God happens to be passing by.

Thus, with a dusty floor and a heavy heart, I plod off to my local Costa Coffee to sit and watch my world pass by. I often tweet about the regulars that flock there, so I thought as part a creative writing therapy to lift my mood, I would blog about the characters that share my hour every morning between 9 and 10am. They are all real people; their monikers merely protect their identity and save myself from a black eye should any of them ever find out I am writing about them.

Despite an abundance of tea shops, we have two Costa Coffee shops in this town (and a Starbucks, but that's a whole different kettle of mackerel) and they all do a roaring trade with the more elderly population who seem to be more than happy to pay £2.45 for a cappuccino*.

*According to my mother (who purports to know about these things) the older person only ever orders cappuccinos because they know what's coming; whereas (according to her) no-one really knows what a latte involves – it's one of those exotic foreign practices – the unknown, like spaghetti bolognese in the 1970s. My mother feels the same way about pesto and even today, still won't entertain feta cheese.

Anyway, back to the coffee shop sightings. First up is one of my favourites:

NAME: ESPRESSO MAN                                   SPECIES: Elderly Male

SIGHTING: Common, All year                                          CALL: ESpresso, black

PLUMAGE: Raincoat, flat cap, shopping bag

This old fellow orders the smallest, but strongest espresso Costa can make. Espresso man is about 90 years old and I imagine he must have the stomach lining of a mountain goat, because he drinks this stuff every day. A little while back, my husband once tried an espresso. The resulting energy buzz meant he cut the lawns, washed the windows, took the rubbish to the dump and started to sort out the garage. However, the buzz eventually wilted and quickly curtailed this unnatural phenomona of movement. He retired to his bed with a headache, leaving the garage as a work-in-progress - where it remains to this day. He has never touched the coffee again.

Espresso man is a whole different specimen however. He is a tiny, bald Irish man who wears an oversized, beige raincoat and a muddy-green, chequered flat cap. He shuffles when he walks; is always alone and carries a jute shopping bag which appears to be empty apart from a copy of the Daily Mail. He is quite deaf but can cuss in 4 languages (Gaelic, English, Italian and French - I happen to know this for a fact).  He reads the newspaper aloud and whenever he comes across something that he considers ridiculous (which is nearly on every page – it is the Daily Mail after all) then the effing and jeffing begins. Most of the regulars and staff are very fond of the old guy and tend to let him get on with it, but he still causes much consternation to whoever happens to be sitting on the next table (Yummy mummys, tourists and posh people particularly get outraged). Espresso Man says his late wife had kissed the Blarney Stone and could talk and talk and talk; then she got Alzheimer's and everything went quiet... and then she died. His motto to life is: "never live too long".
Apart from me, Espresso Man is the only other customer I have seen to have his coffee delivered to his table.

Next sighting: Henry V