London is enjoying an unusual heat wave. With blue skies and endless sunshine, we hardly recognize the capital as its citizens go about dressed in beachwear.
While hardy folk sit out in the sun and turn tomato-coloured, more sensible people keep to the shade. Finsbury Square yesterday was full of post-lunchtime dawdlers trying to forget it was time to go back to work.
We usually do our laundry on Sunday afternoon, toting our washing in a wheelie suitcase and a shopping trolley to Marchmont Street, near the British Library. This time, however, we thought a change of routine was indicated and so we set off early this morning, hoping to avoid the worst of the heat.
We stopped off for breakfast on the way at the Station Cafe at Kings Cross and by the time we emerged, the temperature was already rising. A couple of hours spent in a hot and humid launderette was not appealing but the job needs to be done.
Once the machines are spinning, we can leave the close atmosphere of the launderette and go across the road to Costa.
Is it correct that you should take hot drinks in summer on the supposition that these are more cooling than cold drinks? It is counterintuitive advice and I have never found it true – in fact, I always feel a rush a warmth after a hot drink. Even so, I usually prefer to drink coffee, rather than something from the cold cabinet.
We like Marchmont Street. It has a relaxed villagy feel to it, despite the fact that there is a shopping centre hidden away towards one end. There are two nice pubs, a couple of cafes and Costa.
Other people must have had the same idea as the launderette was quite busy. Even so, we managed to complete the task without too much trouble. Job done, we set out for home.
By the time we had trundled our respective burdens down to the Euston Road, we were both thinking the same thing: there’s a Starbuck’s just along here… It seemed reasonable to pause a while before dragging ourselves and our luggage onto the bus.
One thing has always mystified me about Starbuck’s: the size of the servings. When I was a boozer, I happily drank beer by the pint but coffee? Surely not. The smallest black coffee I can get in Starbuck’s is a “tall” black americano. Frankly, it’s too much. Horses might drink by the bucketful but I prefer a reasonably-sized cup.
I put it to the man who served me: “Nowadays you serve a ‘flat white’, so what about a ‘flat black’? You know: small.” He looked at me quizzically. “’Tall’ is too much,” I insisted, with the feeling that I was trying to communicate across a gulf.
He rooted around in the pile of cups and showed me two, the usual “tall” and a more normal mug-sized one. “This or this?” he enquired, raising each in turn. “The small one,” I said, thanking him more effusively than perhaps I ought to have done.
Looking at my change I saw he had charged me the same as for a “tall”. Oh well, win some, lose some, I suppose. But it was progress of a sort.