Monday, 27 January 2014

The Coffee Challenge: Day 1

Technically today I finished my vegetarian challenge and to be honest, aside from not having many options for my meals, it wasn't that difficult. Paul McCartney would be proud of me. It's even at the point where today I didn't bother eating meat, I just didn't feel the draw of it, so I went about my Tofu curry and bagels for sustenance.

I had planned to give up alcohol for the week, but then my ex-student Marc suggested that I should give up something I really love... coffee...

Let's put it this way - I am addicted to coffee... it feeds me and in some ways I can't live without it... in fact it shapes my day. I go to work and having had a coffee before I left. I get to work and have a coffee, then every break and gap I have one and make another ready for the start of the next class.

I'm not sure whether a good day would be classed as a day where I have a lot of coffee, or as few cups as possible, but I would say on a good day (few) I have 5 cups and on a bad day 8 or 9. In fact the other day I had so many cups that I couldn't stop my hand tapping on the board while I was writing.

So I've given it up, and I decided to not substitute it with tea cause it's still caffeine. It's the hardest thing I've ever given up so far and it's only day one. I didn't feel this bad when I gave up smoking and I used to smoke 40-50 a day. I have a headache from hell and I can't really concentrate. I found myself looking for coffee or sniffing at other peoples. I think the point to life is everything in moderation, but right now I have 6 more days to get through before I can taste this brown nectar again!  I predict tomorrow will see the shakes and more crashing. I feel like Bear Grylls on his greatest challenge. In fact I've decided to record a video of my crashing..

Oh and to make matters worse... on my first day I walked up to work on Oxford Street and Starbucks were having a discount day on all coffee and they were offering free lattes - this is the first time I have ever seen this! Oh and if you're wondering, I resisted the offer!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Vegetarian for a week...

Somehow this week I found myself going for an entire week without eating a single piece of meat or fish, which for me is a bit weird. I wasn't sure I was even doing it till about Thursday. At the start of the week I went shopping and I thought 'I know, I'll buy some Cheese, jam and porridge rather than my usual selection of Iberian hams and German sausage (I feel like making some crude sexual reference here, but seeing as I survived a week without meat I am an adult now) 

The problem is that I usually throw so much meat down my throat (I can almost hear the jokes about sexual contact with men coming from my more juvenile friends) that I found it difficult to think of what to eat. As you can see below from my 'healthy living' selection from Ireland of pies and sausage rolls there was bugger all on offer anywhere.
The only really tough day was Friday. I usually eat so much fucking takeaway that part of me being good to myself was to cut out Wasabi, Starbucks, Costa, Pret, Nero, Subway and every other fastfood joint on Oxford street where the people seemingly know me enough to use my first name and wave when I come in.

So without these options I realised two things. 1) I don't like Tofu, it's not chicken, it's more like cardboard that is soggy and 2) Vegetarians have shit choices... or they need to share their secrets.

The only benefits to being a vegetarian I found were making comments full of innuendos like 'I used to love packing back a lot of meat' and 'crikey, what I'd do for a Spanish sausage' along with trying to ruin other peoples more fun dinners by saying 'meat is murder'.

These 'perks' did not do it for me... but one thing... my body started to feel better... so... I've made a choice... I'm going to give up something I love doing each week to try living without it. It will only be non-essential things... so not water, air, mobile phone or money (sadly) but things like coffee, meat, be a vegan, alcohol. I would welcome your suggestions as to what I should give up...

Next week I'm back to meat and off the booze... this could be fucking hard...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Birth of Troy Spiter

The other day I went to Starbucks to buy a coffee. As I ordered my medium cappuccino I reached into my pocket discovering, to my horror, that I had left my wallet in the school. Luckily one of my students was also in the cafe and offered to pay for me... a little embarrassing, but hey I am an English Teacher so I'm always happy to receive hand-outs.

The girl behind the counter asked for my name to which I responded 'Roy' - I said this as this is my name. I suddenly caught sight of what she had written and asked her to confirm. She showed me 'Troy' to which I chuckled. I love living in London, cause the amount of people from other countries who don't understand me always make me feel like I'm on a permanent holiday. Only the other day I had to try and communicate in Italian to ask whether the Burritos come in different sizes. I do not speak Italian, but a blend of Spanish, Portuguese and a few words I did know accompanied by a few mines seemed to do the trick.

So here I was confronted with the wrong name on the coffee cup and the girl behind the counter staring at me as to how to continue.  I decided to break the tension with a light comment:

"Troy, well that's ok, I mean it's an ancient civilization so that's cool, like Sparta"

In a moment of confusion the girl began to scribble on my cup again, but instead of Sparta she wrote Spiter... so when my name was called I had to respond to Troy Spiter, a man with a superhero porn star name.

The only thing that worries me is Spiter is quite close to Spit or Spitter, which I hope was not a call to arms for her colleagues to give me 'an extra shot' in the coffee of the man creating all the fuss about his name. Anyway, it tasted good, so who gives a fuck... plus now I have a new character to write a short story about.

Friday, 24 January 2014

'Sleeping' on the tube!

Sometimes on the tube it's bloody hard to get a seat, particularly when it's peak time and overcrowded, so one must, in my humble opinion, always make the most of it when the opportunity of another's arse leaving the chair arises.

So today I was at Earl's Court when the chance came my way. A man left his seated position and disembarked the tube. I moved with all the grace of an elephant with no co-ordination as I sprung into action. I took the seat and placed myself next to a man who appeared to be fast asleep and instantly took my phone out of my pocket and read some irrelevant news about something I wasn't really interested in. I did this as to avoid making contact with the other competitors who I had beaten to the prize, in fact during the whole 'taking' process I look straight down at the floor because any contact of eyes can mean my 'British politeness' kicks in and I have to forgo my challenge.

Now the other problem is the envy of others, and being a man I am often expected to give my seat up before a female. This is a lasting effect of sexual discrimination that has carried over from previous generations. In my opinion able-bodied females and males are equal in their ability to stand and therefore should both be expected to stand - you see... I believe in equality.

Now I looked at this man to my right and saw his eye open at every station to check where he was. The cheeky bugger was fake sleeping to make as to avoid the awkward glances from others who wished to accuse him of seat stealing. So I decided to join him.

I placed my phone in my pocket and closed my eyes. It is the second time I have fake-slept on the tube. The first is when I actually ended up falling asleep after closing my eyes and then woke up two stations after mine and arrived at work 25 minutes late. This time I promised it would not happen again so I would keep mentally active.

As I was reciting the Portuguese I remembered something happened. A pregnant woman got on the tube two stations after I started to fake sleep. To my horror I realised I was sat in the disabled seat you must give up for someone who needed it. To be honest I would have, and have many times in the past, given up my seat even if I wasn't in the 'special' seat. This time however it was an obligation.

I pretended to wake up, looked around, noticed the woman and said 'ohhh'. It was so fake that even I was cringing. I offered my seat and then stood up. All the other people on the tube looking at me in disgust as I slinked to the corner to avoid the glances. It was only as I vacated my seat though that I noticed a girl, about 10 years my junior, looking at me with a wry smile of victory sat in the opposite 'obligation' seat. Why was everyone staring at me to move? why not her who was younger? Is it because I'm a man, or because I was fake sleeping? I am happy to stand for anyone who needs it, but come on...

The moral of the story... I will never ever ever fake sleep again.. till next time, cause I look like a dick when I wake up and look straight at the person who wants to sit... there will be no Oscar for my this time.