Troubleshooting coffee makers


10 April I have been eating far too many carbohydrates lately. I have also been drinking too much alcohol. This is because, for some reason, my body has been telling me I not only need the extra calories, I deserve them and, like the fool I am, I’ve been listening to it.

It hasn’t been helped by our visit to Bath last week, when we went to watch Tom perform in his comedy improv show Only Humour. (I have no idea why my son, who is currently working on a maths Phd, should choose this most unlikely recreational activity, but then I have no idea why on earth he would want to do a maths Phd either, so there you are.) We met up with him in the afternoon and, bursting with maternal pride and enthusiasm, I downed a pint of beer in the afternoon, had some wine with an early supper at Cafe Rouge before the show and then, still at a fever pitch of excitement, squeezed another two large glasses of wine in between pointing at Tom and shouting, “That’s my son!” at complete strangers. It was a great night, and Tom was hilarious. Although I also remember finding it hilarious when I almost fell off my stool (halfway through my second glass of wine) and so I’m not sure how reliable a review of the evening this actually is.

This is just one example of my recent lack of calorific restraint (I don’t want to go into too much detail, but let’s just say that it hasn’t been a pretty sight; Snickers Ice Cream Bars have been involved….) so from tomorrow, I am determined to cut down on carbohydrates and chocolate and stop drinking alcohol. To that end, I have bought lots of chocolate-free cottage cheese, lettuce and three kinds of diet coke – cherry, citrus and plain. I’m hopeful that this might do instead of a nicely chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I am focussed and prepared and – after tonight’s Last Supper of roast chicken and tiramisu plus a couple of glasses of claret – ready to knuckle down to some serious inner cleansing.

12 April So far so good. This evening, I am treating myself to a Cherry Diet Coke and a stir fry. I can feel my body thanking me already. To boost my self-restraint, I have also got some hypnosis tapes to listen to before I drop off to sleep. I listen to the first one tonight; a soft woman’s voice instructs me to take deep breaths and imagine my body is an hourglass, with the sand running through my body and relaxing me. “Now, imagine you are in a beautiful garden,” she says. I think of my old childhood garden. “Wander down the path as I count down from ten.” She says. I do.

“Smell the flowers,” she says. I try to smell the flowers but Mr Young has started snoring which is distracting. Gamely, I carry on down the path and reach the end of the garden, where there is a wrought iron gate. “In front of you is a beautiful summerhouse,” she tells me.

There isn’t; the summerhouse is actually at the other end of my garden, so I have to hastily sprint back down to the other end, which isn’t exactly in keeping with my relaxing mood. In fact, I feel quite tense and out of breath when I arrive. Mr Young is still snoring. At the end of the tape, she counts down from one to five; when she gets to five, she tells me I will wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed. Apparently.

Unfortunately – what with all the rushing about and the snoring – I am not relaxed and refreshed. I am wide awake and slightly irritated.

13 April Our coffee maker has broken. The water has stopped dripping through into the pot, even though the light still comes on. “We need to buy a new one,” Mr Young says. I agree, but secretly I am determined to fix it. I go online and do a search for troubleshooting faulty coffee machines. As far as I can tell from this research, it probably just needs cleaning. Feeling very pleased with myself, I follow instructions and fill up the machine with a solution of half water, half vinegar, and switch it on.

Mr Young will be so impressed, I think to myself, and imagine the look on his face when I casually say, “Oh, by the way, I’ve fixed the coffee machine myself.” However, nothing happens. The vinegar/water solution remains in the reservoir and I remember that the reason it isn’t working is because the water has stopped dripping through. Quickly, I empty the machine and throw it in the bin before Mr Young comes in and asks me why there is such a strong smell of vinegar in the kitchen. 14 April I am pretty sure I’ve cleansed my body almost completely now. I’ve also visited my summerhouse three times this week and been drinking Cherry Diet Coke every night. No chocolate or alcohol has passed my lips. My clothes don’t feel any looser, but I’m confident that I’m probably about half a stone lighter.

Which is fortunate, because tonight I remember that there is still half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. And it would just be a waste to just throw it away.

15 April Mr Young has finally arranged his desk area to his satisfaction; now, when he works at home, he is like Captain Kirk on the flight deck, surrounded by monitors and and bleeping, flashing bits of equipment. However, apparently there is a fly in the Starship Enterprise ointment. “The castors on this chair just don’t move smoothly on this carpet,” he tells me, demonstrating how difficult he is finding it to scoot across from one side of the desk to another. “I think I need to get one of those special floor mats. I think that would help. Make it easier to move about,” he says. “Never mind a special floor mat,” I say. “Why don’t we just cut your legs off and put you on castors? That would make it really easy for you to move about.” He treats this remark with disdain and ignores me. Ha! I think. You wouldn’t ignore me if I was Mr Spock and gave you a paralysing Vulcan nerve pinch behind the ear.


My sisters and their children have all gone to Centre Parc for the weekend. I’m jealous. I love Center Parc. (In fact, Mr Young and I went on our own last year, full of good intentions to cycle, play badminton, tennis, table tennis, go on healthy walks, blah blah blah. Sadly, quite early on, I broke my wrist playing badminton and Mr Young came down with a very nasty stomach bug which meant that the two of us spent the entire time lying on the sofa, watching television, and saying “Well, we could have saved the money and just stayed at home!”)


Tonight Mr Young and I are off to Ask, as we have a discount voucher – two courses plus a glass of wine for £12.50.

Inevitably, a lot of carbohydrates are likely to be involved, not to mention a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio.

Never mind. I can spend the whole of next week in the summerhouse if necessary. I just need to give Captain Kirk a Vulcan pinch to stop the snoring.

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