I may have just identified my personal Theresa May ‘running through a field of wheat’ moment.
Without the patience needed to wait till my naughtiest ever deed is prized out of me on Desert Island Discs in a few years’ time, it is time to admit it.
For a start, Yuval Noah Harari is right when he says that ‘luxuries tend to become the new necessities and to spawn new obligations’. My luxury (better coffee than I can make) has become a necessity (get someone else to make it) and hence an obligation (stop somewhere on every journey and buy one.)
And ever since coffee shops have asked what name to put on my cup while they make my brew, I have used the first name that comes into my head rather than my own. Those precious minutes are the only time in my life that I can be someone else, and know what it is like to be called something other than ‘Roger’. They shout out their message- ‘flat white for Darren’ or ‘Skinny Latte for Carl’, and off I go. It’s not breaking and entering or Class A drugs, I’ll concede, but it’s a start.
Thus I might be Jurgen, David or Trevor when I want to be a porn star, banker or cabinet maker respectively. I have been a Jeremy and a Boris, but never for long. Sometimes, I see them looking at me and thinking to themselves: ‘he doesn’t look like a Keith but it takes all sorts; and at other times I feel that I could have been born to be a Stuart or a Mark. I was even a woman once until a small girl behind me shouted at her mother: ‘Look, Mum! That old man’s called Barbara.’
Sometimes, I completely forget who I said I was (as we all do at a certain age) and the unanswered cry goes round the shop like a lost soul at sea: ‘Cappucino for Graham!’
Other times I climb back into the car and see with a tiny thrill of adventure that I am Wilfred, an iconic travel writer, and Wilfred I remain till the cup goes in a recycle bin just outside Okehampton.
Yesterday, I was the grateful passenger on the way to a trade show and awards dinner, where I was likely to be required to drink alcohol on at least three significant occasions during the working day and evening, which might explain why the recycle bin at Warwick Services on the M40 has a cup with ‘Jean-Claude’ written on it with black Sharpie ink.
In the event, I drank so little that I fear I let the name down.