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Back Buzz - October 2, 2000

[pumping heart] Costa Cuore D'Italia, 5 West Street, Chichester, West Sussex

At the risk of sounding redundant, it's difficult to find espresso in England. Actually I don't care if I'm redundant or not; to not repeat that statement several times is understatement in the extreme. So in case you weren't paying attention just then, it's difficult to find espresso in England! If you're outside the big cities it's almost impossible to find even a drinkable cup of coffee, much less an espresso. But you'd expect in a popular tourist town like Chichester there would be at least one decent espresso cafe.

And there is! Earlier this year I was visiting Chichester and Arundel with my friend Mistah Rick from the Bay Area and my English friend Andrew. After touring Chichester Cathedral we were desperate for a bit of caffeine to fuel our homeward journey. We parked our car in a one-hour space and walked over to Costa Cuore D'Italia. Located just opposite the cathedral, this cafe is a welcome respite from the hordes of tourists trundling down West Street. And the coffee is good as well: one sip of my double macchiato and I was in heaven. It was great! Such joy I experienced! I'll admit it wasn't exactly Caffé D'Arte or Caffé Vita; but after that pot of dishwasher coffee we'd started the day with at a local B&B, it was manna from heaven.

The cafe has an upstairs area with two rooms. We sat in the very coffeehouse-like room equipped with nice comfy armchairs and couches. The other room seemed to be the nursing room, at least on this particular morning; we could hear a baby screaming loudly for his latte.

Basically for a typical English coffee shop this was a satisfying, almost Seattle-esque experience. I purchased some beans while I was there -- Sumatra Blue Lintong -- which were pleasant but not quite as robust as I like.

Since we were parked in a one-hour space we kept our eyes on the time and made it back to the car after exactly one hour and two minutes. Unfortunately there was a parking ticket on the windscreen. All we can figure is that an overly eager parking officer had managed to time our car from the exact second we locked the doors and walked away. And then, after exactly 360 seconds, somehow he or she pounced on the car like a cat, quickly dashed off the ticket, stuck it onto the windscreen, and vanished without a trace before we rounded the bend. I assume it had to have been a thin, lithe, extremely fit officer to be able to move this fast without detection. At any rate we had a £20 parking fine to add to the cost of our espressos, making them over eight quid a drink. Oh, the price one must pay for the unwariness caused by caffeine desperation...

But is it really fair to impose on a car parked in a limited zone the full penalty for parking no more than two minutes' past the allowed time? Is this the nature of a place like Chichester? Is it tourist towns in general?

Speaking of the interpretation of laws, following is an e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend from last year:

On my trip to Seattle next month I'm thinking of bringing you a bottle of 10-year-old Glenmorangie. Is it legal to hand-carry alcoholic beverages aboard a passenger aircraft across state lines, or would you have to have the bottle surgically implanted into your large intestine? Might as well just drink it before the flight.

Do spirits have to be of a certain age before you can legally transport them across state lines? Is 10 years old enough? Perhaps the 20-year-old Glenmorangie would have been more legal. What if you have a Vintage 1994 bottle of Bordeaux? Is 5 years old enough, or could you be arrested for transporting underaged spirits? What about a fine bottle of IPA made just a few months ago? If you take that on a plane, does it ride free like infants? Would you be expected to buy your bottle of 50-year-old cognac its own ticket?

And speaking of crime and punishment, here's another exchange from two years ago on a much more interesting way to break the law:

I was going to call you on your birthday but I never had a chance. Good thing I didn't.

I'll tell you about my recent vacation as soon as I get some lunch (I'm starving) and get to the supermarket so there's more than rotting cottage cheese in the fridge, and then I have to get to the bank to do some juggling because while I was out of town my time sheet wasn't turned in so there was no paycheck waiting for me and my husband wasn't paying any attention to our various account balances and things are a mess, and then I've got several other errands...

Maybe while I'm at the supermarket I should go to the produce section and juggle some lemons.

How much do you generally take in when performing at the bank? Does it depend on how long the lines are? That seems like a good location to score an occasional big tip. I could imagine that now and then someone might get so frustrated standing in a long, slow line that some small business clerk might just hand over a whole bag -- cash receipts, endorsed checks, whatever -- to the juggler! Can you do your whole repertoire, though? Bank management might tolerate it as long as you stick to soft objects such as bean bags and furry animals, but if you get out the bowling pins, flaming torches, and chainsaws, they might try to accuse you of violating some FDIC safe banking policy and politely request that you leave -- before you reach your breathtaking climax that always gets the spectators (men especially) reaching into their pants to pull out their...wallets.

What a great idea for robbing a bank! You could walk in and start off juggling lemons and then switch to chainsaws and flaming torches. For your finale you could juggle an unpinned hand grenade, a starving crocodile, and a fragile container of Sarin while your accomplices, each carrying a large trash bag, circulate through the crowd for offerings.