Just how hard could it really be to give up coffee for seven days? Very, finds Matt Suddain.
My last cup. I savour every inky drop. Oh, black ocean of possibility with your bobbing boats of inspiration. That's good, write that down. Feature idea: read the 10 great novels of the 20th century and write about them - Ulysses, In Search of Lost Time, The Clan of the Cave Bear. TV idea: women vie for the hand of a millionaire. Eventually they learn that the man has a degenerative illness and will require a lifetime of care. Also, he has no money. Delicious. Factoid: coffee was discovered by goats. According to legend, an Abyssinian goat-herder saw his herd acting frisky after they'd eaten red cherries from a shrub. He tasted the fruit and was later spotted dancing with his goats. Movie idea: Dances with Goats?
Green tea to start the day. Tea has caffeine, too. Where is it? When caffeine intake is reduced, blood pressure drops, causing the infamous withdrawal headache. The headache can last up to five days but can be alleviated with analgesics and with caffeine. Well, duh. The withdrawal subject may also become nervous, irritable, restless, lazy, dopey, sleepy and grumpy - also known as the seven dwarfs of caffeine withdrawal. In my case this gang has been joined by dizzy, cranky, punchy and blurry. Idea: read five great novels. Start Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
A tad cranky. Some tea makes me feel better. Flatmates say nine cups is cheating. Things get out of hand, tea everywhere. To do: buy flatmates flowers. Headache persists, a dull stabbing in frontal lobe accompanied by desire to stab. Normal? Doc says yes, it's normal, and that in two weeks I'll be able to replace the effect of caffeine with a short run. Suspect he's in the pocket of the jogging industry. Idea: new doctor. My neighbour plays his stereo all day. One of those hipster chumps who's into dressing like a pirate. Mag idea: hipstersexuals - more-than-gay-enough.
Feeling bad. Two pots of green tea and I'm leaking like a Russian sub. Flatmates confiscate my teapot. Find backup teapot. More screaming. They catch me sucking the juice out of tea leaves. Have to drag me off. V. embarrassing. Synapses no longer firing. Idea: can't remember. Return to bed. Ah sleep; black ocean of possibility with your ... boats ... Factoid: each year some 7 million tonnes of beans are produced worldwide. Most of it is hand-picked. By monkeys. (Note to self: fact-check this fact.)
Feeling the hate. Also the pain. Told taxi driver that the reason so many immigrants come here is to ruin his day. Caffeinated lip-balm confiscated by flatmates. Threw In Search of Lost Time out window. Factoid: originally, coffee beans were a food. East African tribes would grind coffee cherries together and create a paste with animal fat. Rolled into little balls, the mixture was said to give warriors energy for battle. Hell yes!
Hate. Pain. All will pay. Idea: torture not so bad. Idea: see indie-boy about his stereo. Kill him. TV idea: Celebrity Island. Take celebs to a deserted island. Leave. Never go back. Oh god, I miss coffee - the ritual, the equipment. Coffee has the sexy nomenclature of a fetish: crema, macchiato, extraction. Coming off coffee is similar to being a binge drinker, but with none of the exquisite amnesia. I remember haranguing taxi drivers and hapless cinema attendants with a frightening clarity. I remember calling my flatmate a "trout-sucking troll". I'm a monster. The recovering coffee drinker wakes with the hangover, but also the memories.
Feel a little better. Headache faded. Will to kill diminished. Feel sad. Morning in bed. Flatmates bring me soup. Finish reading a history of coffee. Coffee is one of the world's most vital primary commodities. About 6.7 million tonnes of coffee were produced in 2000, and 7 million is expected by next year. The collapse of the International Coffee Agreement led to a pricing crisis from 2001 to 2004, during which many coffee farmers lost their livelihoods. That was just a pricing issue. Imagine the global impact if the coffee industry collapsed. Productivity would plummet, violent crime would rocket and fragile workers, deprived of their breakfast lattes, would turn to crack. Armies would wage war over dwindling stocks, leading to mass slaughter, headaches, irritability and the apocalypse. This is critical. Decide that I must resume drinking coffee. Immediately. Not for pleasure, you see, but for the economy.
My first cup! Like a rebirthing. Oh, hot black wave of pleasure, welling like a slop of warm bathwater from within. Oh, cascade of burning sparks redolent with possibility. Idea: what do people love? Guns. What else? Celebrities. Hunting the Stars! Bindi Irwin to host?