Saturday, 9 August 2014

Between two coffees: so much can be done, if one can find the energy. And the will

The French have a fine wine known as “Entre deux Rives”, between two banks.

This is not a tribute to those fine people who brought us the 2008 financial crash. We’re not talking about a wine between Lehman Brothers and the Royal Bank of Scotland. It probably doesn’t cost enough for those worthy fellows, though if it did and someone else was paying for it (the taxpayer, say), I’m sure they’d enjoy it as a change from Champagne.

No, the banks in question are those of the Gironde and the Garonne, in the Bordeaux region where the wine is made.

This morning a new notion struck me, that of “Entre deux Cafés”. There is a precious time in my life between the two coffees with which which I like to start each day. As a general rule, it’s a time of quiet reflection and calm contemplation, in which I might, perhaps read the Guardian.

Reading the paper is an important ritual, even if in my case it no longer involves any actual paper, since I read it on Kindle. It enables me to find out what atrocity the Israelis have most recently committed, or indeed their fine disciples, now far ahead of them in vileness, in the organisation I used to think of as Isis.

Isis has, of course, announced that it now wishes to be known simply as the “Islamic State” or “is”.

In the first place, I’m not convinced we should be particularly concerned with what that organisation’s wishes are.

But in the second place, it
’s a ludicrous name. I suppose the Wizard of Is might be a less factitious and far nastier version of the Wizard of Oz. But imagine the awful sentences to which the name could lead, such as “they are is”. Perhaps such barbarity towards language is appropriate, though, as the linguistic expression of their barbarity on the ground.

Occasionally, I don’t allow myself to be drawn entirely into reading the newspaper. If I can dredge up the courage from somewhere, at times I’ll go swimming between the first coffee and the second. It has to be between: leave myself the time to drink the second, and any courage for the swim has gone. The time will seeped away too, as it happens, especially since one of my colleagues had the genial idea of organising a daily conference call at 8:30 a.m. That rather limits my room for manoeuvre in the mornings.

So it’s off to the pool after the first coffee, with the second ahead of me as a promise of reward for my virtuous behaviour.

Today, however, it was different. It’s a Saturday and this afternoon we have friends coming over for wine and cheese. That
’s the kind of party I think of as 50-50: I’m not that keen on cheese, but I like wine more than well enough to be fine with the 50% I can enjoy. 

We both work, so Friday isn’t a good time for cleaning. And at 10:00 on Saturday we generally have a couple of hours of badminton, after which we’re too clapped out for cleaning. And yet, with people coming round, cleaning had to be done.

Such a space, between two coffees
To be filled with so much. Swimming. The news. Even cleaning

So it became a task for between-coffee-time. One quick coffee and then, from 7:45 to 9:30, out came the sponges and the scourers and the cleaning products.

Oddly enough, it was strikingly similar to swimming. The drudgery’s perfectly bearable, no real hardship at all. And at the end, the sense of well-being is overwhelming. With swimming it’s mostly physical, with a dash of self-satisfaction over one’s display of virtue; with cleaning, it’s entirely moral, but the self-satisfaction’s all the stronger.

And – at the end – there’s another coffee.

A great way to start the day.

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