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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Blue mountain blues


SATURDAY’S CHILD: Blue mountain blues

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REGARDLESS OF how far-fetched, ridiculous, obscene or even groaningly gruesome a pun is, I have time for it.  Even the one about the Bizarro Doctor to the little Bizarro Kid, “Hey I haven’t seen you for more than a year. You certainly gruesome!” There is one that remains with me because it is so bad that it is good.

Three moles, Daddy Mole, Mummy Mole and Baby Mole were in a hole. The leader of the group, Daddy Mole, sniffed the air and said, “I smell cheese.” Mummy Mole sniffed and said, “I smell cheese too.” And Baby Mole, having taken a good sniff, complained, “I don’t smell cheese. I smell molasses.”

A bit of a sticky situation to find oneself in it is true and from the moment my friend Surcliffe started telling me that joke more than 50 years ago, I should have smelt a rat but if baby moles smell what that particular baby Mole inhaled, what do rats smell – ratatouille?  Some rats are way above that and really don’t give a rodent’s rectum for anything so picayune. What they want to do is wake up and smell the coffee. Research on rats shows that just a slight sniff of coffee changes the way their brains function and prevents cellular harm that can be caused by stress. The scientists conclude that coffee would have the same effect on us humans.

I am really not absolutely certain what can stress out a rat – a cat maybe, a world shortage of cheese, or somebody builds a better mousetrap, an event which Ralph Waldo Emerson is supposed to have said would cause the world to beat a path to that person’s door. But then again, is it a particular type of coffee? Can you see a rat going into Starbucks for a double Jamaican Blue Mountain macchiato?  Can you hear Juan Valdez, upset it was not Colombian, exclaiming, “Raat it!”

I may see that happen before I receive an email from my wife extolling the many virtues of coffee. She sends me anything bad about Aspartame or diet drinks. Just a few weeks ago she sent me this article from Science Daily, her choice of reading to help keep me not on the straight and narrow but the fat-free and tasteless: “Increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. Findings raise concerns about the safety of chronic diet soda consumption, which may increase belly fat and contribute to greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.” Now the study clearly says “increasing” diet soda consumption and even though the most recent Coke Zero lasted me two months, my wife jumps on anything like that and makes sure I see it. “You saw the article I send you etc.”  My staff members know that they would get more talk than a month of Hansard if they indulge me in indulging myself.  

Interestingly, she has never sent me any of the articles featured in Science Daily which spread the good news about coffee. The headlines have included, “Used coffee grounds are a rich source of healthful antioxidants”, “Women who choose boiled coffee run lower risk of breast cancer, Swedish study finds”, “Coffee Reduces Breast Cancer Risk, Study Suggests”, “Coffee May Protect Against Endometrial Cancer, Study Suggests”, “New Evidence That Drinking Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes”, “Coffee: Aroma, Taste And Dietary Fibre (coffee also contains significantly higher levels of soluble dietary fiber than other commonly consumed beverages)”, “Drinking Decaf or Regular Coffee May Be Good for the Liver, Study Suggests”, “Can Coffee Protect Against Malignant Melanoma? Study Looks at Trends (It does)”, “Can Coffee Reduce Your Risk of MS? (It does), “Increasing Consumption of Coffee Associated With Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Study Finds”, “A Cup of Coffee a Day May Keep Retinal Damage Away, Study Shows”, and “Chemical in Coffee May Help Prevent Obesity-Related Disease.”  

What studies will show is that I have been drinking coffee since I was five years old because in those days there were no fears about its psychoactive or brain-changing effects.  In my grandmother’s house we had our choice each morning of coffee tea, cocoa tea and green tea.  We were so much into the beverage that my young cousin whose name was Motilal was called “Mo-tea” for short.  

I no longer drink eight to ten cups of coffee a day mainly because I have lost my taste for instant coffee, even Gold Blend. I may have two cups of coffee now but generally stick to one cup in the morning made from boiling, instead of mere hot, water and from a little plastic dripper that looks like a funnel and is lined with a paper filter into which I spoon enough ground coffee, generally from Kenya (because I can’t afford Blue Mountain), Papua New Guinea (Kwonggi Mountain) or some other Waitrose offering (Starbuck’s is too expensive). My little package of funnel, filter and coffee travels with me wherever in the world I go. I can get the boiling-hot water in any hotel but not the coffee. I don’t use sugar or milk and my wife makes sure I eschew the diet coke. Now as I head confidently towards my three score and ten, I want my life to be like my coffee, not bitter or weak but always good to the last drop.   

• Tony Deyal was last seen thinking about telling his wife, “I think you have it wrong. Did you ever stop and think that maybe coffee is addicted to me?”