Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The brown stuff

I'm not going to wax lyrical in praise of coffee - I'm way too embarrassed, after reading that coffee is the number one thing white people like - but we do start the day with good coffee, every day, and along with my bowl of cereal it helps to make the world feel like a slightly more stable place. As my life spirals out of control, I really value at least having a predictable breakfast. But in amongst all the fun and rainbows of the last few weeks has come the sad and growing certainty that our espresso machine is dying. It's losing pressure, and the last month or so has seen increasingly watery and insipid coffee staring up at me from my favourite blue cup.

What to do?

Obviously, we need to get a new one. Even more obviously, I'm never going to find one that is anywhere near as much of a bargain as the incumbent. It was marked down, and down, and down and in the end it cost me so little that I'm embarrassed to even say. Okay, about £20. Which is insane, for a good espresso machine. Problem is, J now thinks this is how much they normally cost and was unwilling to authorise spending any more to buy a replacement. Pleading didn't work. Offering to spend my birthday money (how old am I, twelve??) partially worked, but in the end the magic words were:

"I will buy it from Ebay".

J and I love Ebay. For example: Our fridge is from ebay. Our washing machine is from ebay. Our garden shed is from ebay. Even the bricks for our garden path were from ebay. (We spent a Saturday evening driving to Oxford to load our car with bricks, and then drove back and unloaded them all. Who says romance is dead, hey?)

We don't buy stuff there very often, but when we do, we do it wholeheartedly. None of this buy-it-now nonsense. You want cheap home appliances? You have to bid. So anyway, I went, I saw, I bid, I purchased. Someone who clearly has richer relatives than me was willing to sell an unwanted (and more importantly unused) wedding present of a Gaggia Baby Class for a mere fraction of its RRP.
Ahhhhh. So lovely.

So I bought this on Friday and paid for it immediately (of course!) But now! Now I'm having all kinds of trouble with the transaction. I'm certain the guy isn't a fraudster, but he is completely incompetent and isn't able to claim my paypal payment. I've had to pay and cancel twice now, to different email addresses. And because he hasn't got the money, he hasn't sent the machine. I'm getting fed up, but got a really good price so not willing to cancel the transaction. All weekend was fantasising about having coffeemaker that actually works, so I'm disappointed that it's being held up. This is why people buy stuff from shops, I guess.
In the end I called him to discuss payment. He suggested a postal order, which would be great, if it was still 1972. Also if I was able to get to a post office during the day. Eventually he agreed to another hi-tech form of money transfer - the cheque. All was fine, until he said 'so I'll wait until I've received your cheque, deposited it, and then it's cleared, and then I'll send the item'.
I guess he expected me to be happy with that. But then, this is a man who a) owns a super-cool espresso machine and b) doesn't appreciate it enough to even keep it, so you can guess how much I value his opinion. In the end, I thought about all the discipline books I had been reading and pretended he was a toddler. Kind but firm. 'NO. You...willl...put...it...in....the...post....now. I will send a cheque immediately, and you will post it immediately. I've already paid twice. You know the money is in my account. This is not my problem. The only problems are between you and paypal. SEND ME MY MACHINE NOW!!!!!' To which he agreed, surprisingly quickly. I'm going to be such a great mother.
Perhaps I overreacted a little. But all I'm asking him to do is put an expensive item in the post without any positive proof of payment. Is that really so much to ask?
No, I don't think so either. I can smell the coffee already.
On a completely different note, happy Armistice Day, everybody. 90 years today. I'm generally not patriotic about my home country at all - I don't even particularly like barbeques, or kangaroos (although barbequed kangaroo is delicious) but Australia's contribution to WWI makes me feel both very proud and very sad. (WWII, too, obviously, but that war actually had something to do with us so it was fractionally less criminally wasteful). Australia, apparently, lost a higher proportion of its population in WWI than any other country. I really miss celebrating ANZAC day each year - strangely. If you want to make an Australian cry, just say - Gallipoli! Anzac Cove! British incompetence! The beaches! The cliffs! Mel Gibson! So many young lives! Make sure you've got tissues, though, or you'll regret it.
Some of you know much better than I do how much conflict still rages around the world. I think today is a good day to pray for all those caught up in it, everywhere, and for peace.


  1. I will say a little prayer for those in conflict around the world today and even light a candle if I can remember to do so at the end of the very long day today.

    Caroline, your writing makes me crack up! love it.

    I wish we Americans spelled "cheque" as such, it's so much cooler - and birthday money, Craig and I are still hung up on getting to selfishly spend it the way we each want to. It's cringeable. :)

    Coffee? Can't do without it. Espresso? Not if you want me to run grossly amuck and hail from the ceilings. Espresso for me its akin to an AK-47 in the hands of someone who doesn't know the foggiest regarding gun usage. But, I envy those that can drink it, enjoy it and look dapper whilst so doing!


  2. You like cheque? How about racquet? I'll throw one of those in, for free!

    To be 100% honest, I do put milk in after I've made the espresso. But using espresso seems to be the only way to make coffee that is strong enough AND milky enough. Not that I'm a control freak :)

  3. what's up with dummies on Ebay?? I bought a baby sling (from a lady only 2 states over) and it took 12 DAYS to get to me. I could have WALKED faster than that. How hard is it to stuff an envelope and put it in the box? Grr.. but and least I got it which is more than I can say for your (very pretty) espresso machine. Good luck!

  4. I think I literally drooled with jealousy when I saw that espresso maker!

    YES, PLEASE join the book club! Just e-mail your thoughts when you are ready,
    eyesofmyeyes@yahoo.com, and I will publish them. Thrilled to have you!

  5. I am jealous, jealous, JEALOUS of your espresso machine. So very jealous. I think my skin might even be turning a bit green....


Over to you!