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  • Emilia Cook

Coffee, Coffee, everywhere ....

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

The other day we were travelling through Scotland and stopped for coffee at a well known coffee franchise. My hubby enjoys a coffee but sometimes his inner Yorkshireman bursts out, and every part of his being exclaims “HOW much!?!” when the teenage barista (the current title for someone who last week was shown how to twiddle the knobs on the coffee machine) asks him for £4.95 for a paper cup full of steaming something (in this case mostly milk). He overcame his natural inclinations, handed over the cash, and took the offered cup of expensive milky water with a dash of coffee to the corner table to nurse his wounded Yorkshireness.

For some reason, over the years, we have experienced a strange relationship with my home country and food and drink, which at various times has left us with a off-kilter view of Scottish ‘normal’. A few years ago, my other half was convinced that Scottish people didn’t eat gravy. That was despite having been married to a gravy consuming Scotswoman for 20 years! That year we were visiting near Christmastime and decided to have some lunch in the restaurant of a large supermarket chain. Since it was near Christmas my other half decided to have their ‘Seasonal Special – Turkey dinner with all the trimmings’. When it arrived, ‘all the trimmings’ did not appear to include gravy. Obviously an error on someone’s part, so he smiled and said to the server ‘can I have gravy please’, ‘we don’t do gravy’ was the joyless reply from the surly teenager. ‘Don’t do gravy’ my shocked hubby said ‘it’s a Christmas dinner, it’s got to have gravy’. The teenager looked at hubby, thought for a minute, recognised that he was elderly and foreign (eg English) and so likely struggling with the language barrier, so repeated slowly, and as clearly as he could “we havent got any gravy, sorry”.
There was nothing to do but accept this, but I could hear him muttering under his breath, “we’re in a supermarket for goodness sake, how difficult can it be to wander over there and pick up a packet of Bisto? I’ve a good mind to do it myself”. Anyway, we decided later in the week to overcome the gravy insult by trying the “Traditional Christmas Dinner” at another place. A lovely big plate duly arrived, turkey, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, mash, stuffing. Anything missing? Shock, horror! NO GRAVY! This could not be happening. We called over the server, “there’s no gravy” said my exasperated husband. “Sorry, we’ve run out of gravy” he said. “What?! … can’t you just make some more?” enquired hubby, his patience wearing thin. “Well, the chef doesn’t really do gravy” says the young man “he can’t get the lumps out”. (This actually happened, this is not a made up story!). The ‘chef’ turned out to be a young man, at that point peering around the counter. It was not a busy time of the day so he was having a break from his kitchen duties. “Come ‘ere, Lad” says my other half in his friendliest Yorkshire, “I’m going to show you how to make gravy”. And he did! Hubby was left with the lasting, but incorrect, impression that Scottish people don’t “do” gravy!

I tell you this to make the point, well a couple of points really …. You will sometimes have an experience that leaves you with an impression of people, which you might then relate to a whole group of people, that’s not really an accurate reflection. We owe it to ourselves and to others to get beyond that initial impression, to get to the bottom of things and find the truth, and most of all to always give people a second chance and a helping hand if you can.

Another point I would like to make is that if you would like some good company and some good coffee (without breaking the bank!) you should come along to St Mark’s Community Drop In on a Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm. They have lovely Fair Trade Coffee available (free of charge), cake, good company and the opportunity to take part in some crafts, jigsaws or board games if you would like to. You will be made very welcome, and maybe we could share another few stories with you!



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