It was with a great deal of effort that I was eventually able to peel open my eyes on Saturday morning in a manner similar to how determined old wallpaper is finally torn from a wall; piece by piece. I felt worn and droopy, like a style of interior decor which has gone horribly out of fashion, and I decided that rather than get out of bed and make myself a cup of coffee I would lay amongst my sheets in a crumpled, hung over heap for an extra twenty minutes before getting up for the train. This would prove to be an unwise decision. I went on to find that the coffee shop near the station was closed for refurbishment, while the station shop itself had run out of milk and there was no trolley service on the train. I wouldn’t be able to drink a cup of coffee until midday, leaving me lethargic for the first half of the day – quite the opposite of Celtic’s performance against Hibernian that afternoon.
I am not one of those people who insists that I need coffee early in the day to function as a human being, but it was clear on Saturday that I would have enjoyed the morning better with a little caffeinated stimulation. To begin with, a paranoia normally associated with someone who has drunk far too much coffee crept into my mind as I sat clutching my train ticket between my forefinger and my thumb and I watched the conductor wind her way slowly up the train towards me. I found myself repeatedly checking every detail on the small orange card, fearing that I had somehow picked up the wrong ticket at the collection window and would be forced to get off the train at some stop in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles away from a coffee shop. I could sense the shame I would feel as I am ushered up the packed carriage, the eyes of every passenger on me, shaking their heads to indicate appalled disgust as the conductor urges me onto the platform. Next time boil the kettle! She would call out as the train pulls away.
Fortunately I was given the correct ticket for my journey and I was granted access to the replacement bus service between Crianlarich and Glasgow, where I found myself seated next to someone of indeterminate gender. Of course, this was a situation I could easily have been in after a cup of coffee or two, but I felt that my judgment was definitely inhibited by the absence of caffeine from my system, as well as a reluctance to glance too often at the person next to me. They wore a bright red jacket which was of a fashion only a woman could confidently wear, but the body was slender and lacking any notable feminine shape. The hair was short and grey and appeared to be an acceptable style for any person, whereas the thin-rimmed spectacles looked much better suited to a female face. However, the face of this particular person seemed to have the features of a grizzled veteran male and I knew immediately that I could not even contemplate beginning a conversation with this person if I couldn’t determine their sex. I stared out the window at the passing wet countryside, sighed to myself and wondered whether the sheep grazing on the grass suffered from these social complexities.
It was a late night at the bar the previous evening and an over-indulgence in Jack Daniels which led to my traumatic Saturday morning without coffee. Here I encountered a woman whose acquaintance I have only really made in the last seven months or so and upon seeing me she enthusiastically threw her arms around me. I questioned whether it was perhaps a little early in our friendship for us to be greeting each other with a hug, especially when our contact to that point had only been vaguely verbal. She suggested that we try a handshake instead, but it felt quite formal and I was anxious that it might appear to onlookers as though we were exchanging drugs for money. I tend to favour a high-five, I said, considering the hand slapping to be friendly without being too intimate or too formal. We raised our hands into the air and completely missed one another on the first attempt. We tried again and made minimal contact and I agreed that she was probably right to go with the hug in the first instance, so we reverted to that and shared another friendly embrace before I made some tenuous joke when she innocently answered my question about what she’d been doing with her life recently and we didn’t talk again for the rest of the night.
I finally got my hands on a hot cup of coffee, but not before having to zig-zag a route between several charity talkers on Buchanan Street. If there are two things I fear in the centre of the city it is charity talkers and umbrellas, and with the rain falling from the sky as incessantly as the attempts of these young volunteers to convince pedestrians to donate to their cause I was panic-stricken as I attempted to weasel through the masses to the nearest coffee shop. I find it very difficult to ignore charity talkers. It requires a certain confidence to politely decline whatever they are offering or an equal amount of rudeness to completely ignore them, and I possess neither skill. This is particularly the case when the charity talker in question is female, given how rare it is that a woman shows a genuine interest in talking to me. Once when standing outside Liverpool Street Underground Station in London waiting for a friend I became involved in a lengthy discussion with an attractive female charity talker which led to me providing her with all of my contact details and an agreement to donate £1 a month to some charity pledging to preserve the Cumbrian slug or help grow pomegranates on the Norfolk coast or something equally as tenuous. After several months I eventually came to the realisation that my donation to this cause wasn’t going to win the affection of the female charity talker who I would never see again anyway because she lived in London and I didn’t, so I cancelled my monthly donation and I never knew what become of her gastropod mollusc.
Fortunately the charity talkers in Glasgow were dressed in a bright blue which alerted me to their presence several yards before I reached them and I was able to dodge their good intentions on my way to the coffee shop. I ordered an Americano and sat at a table by the window, where I pondered everything I had experienced that morning. I cradled the styrofoam cup in my hands and let the warm steam rise up to my chin between mouthfuls. In a way it felt comforting and relaxing, and it was then that I realised that what I really needed was a beer, so I got up and left for a nearby bar.
JJ 0-1 Coffee
Celtic 2-2 Hibernian