‘Peel Here’! Peel here my backside. Nothing ever peels here. At least not for me. Now maybe I’m all thumbs, as they say, or maybe I’m as awkward as a bag of hammers but in fairness to myself (and we are told to be kind to ourselves during this Covid crisis) I’m not that clumsy. I’m handy enough though of late I am having some difficulty buttoning, and unbuttoning, shirt buttons but that’s another issue entirely. The ‘Peel Here’ I’m on about are those two little words on the corner of your package of ‘Thinly Sliced Crumbed Ham’ or ‘Oak & Peat Smoked Salmon Slices’, whatever. Two little words to help you open the package easily and painlessly, allowing you to remove a slice or two and to just as easily, and just as painlessly, reseal the said package. Huh! ‘Peel Here’ never peels for me and I usually end up pulling and poking at it until I have to resort to taking a skelp out of the package with a scissors which negates the concept of easy pealing and completely fecks up the smooth resealing of same package. I know, I know, I don’t have much to be worrying about but this is what happens in these strange Covid times – simple things, ridiculous things, get in on you.
So, while I’m on my high horse here are some other pet hates of mine: books with introductions almost as long as the damn book itself * Cars parking in the middle of a space that can accommodate two. Hate that. Especially when parking is hard to find (think we can all associate with that) * A broken finger nail catching in your clothes, not least your wooly jumper, and no scissors or nail clippers to hand * On the phone to some corporate body or other and hearing the following: ‘A member of our staff will be with you shortly.’ SHORTLY! Not sure what their definition of ‘shortly’ is but it falls way short of short. ‘A member of staff will be with you in a quarter, or even half, an hour, would be more accurate * Toilet rolls, new ones, that won’t unroll evenly, smoothly in a simple, civilized fashion but require unrolling half the bloody roll before it’s ready for use * Those black, polythene rubbish bags that refuse (pun not intended) to open, that you can’t even distinguish the top from the bottom * Same with those flimsy, little transparent bags in supermarkets for fruit, bags that you have to massage a hundred times to get them to open * Maps, road maps especially, that won’t fold back the way you got them, that will taunt and thwart you until you feel like tossing them out the window of the car except you need them to get to Termonfeckin. Or wherever (I don’t, can’t, do Satnav. The car can but I can’t!) * Screw-off bottle tops that won’t screw off. You screw and screw and screw some more until finally you realise you’re ‘screwed’! It’s not going to open * And that’s just a short selection of my pet hates – I could go on but there’s a limit, I realise, to your tolerance and forbearance.
And so to something more positive and uplifting, and a true story to boot. ‘There’s this little coffee shop, two people approach the counter: ‘Four coffees please, two for us and two hanging.’ They paid, took their two coffees with them and left. ‘What’s with the hanging coffees?’ a customer nearby asked. ‘Wait and you’ll see’, the waiter replied. Some more people came in; two girls asked for a coffee each, paid and left. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three women, three for them and four hanging coffees. The curious customer was still none the wiser and was left wondering: what the hell are these hanging coffees all about?
Soon a man dressed in worn clothes, who looked like he might be homeless, arrived at the counter and quietly asked: ‘Would you have a hanging coffee, please?’ ‘Yes, sir, we do’, came the immediate reply. He is served his coffee and the curious customer got his answer to the mystery of the ‘hanging coffees.’ People pay in advance for a coffee that will be served to whoever can’t afford a hot drink.
This tradition started in Naples but has spread throughout the world’s cities and towns. It’s also possible to order, not only a hanging coffee’ but a ‘hanging sandwich’ or even a low-cost, basic ‘hanging meal.’ And wouldn’t it be great to see this wonderful humane and caring practice take root here in Kilkenny? And thank you, Angela Chalice, for that touching, and true, story.