Frank Coughlan: 'Time to wake up and smell the coffee…'

The design was seductive. Cool curves in glossy black with a slim silver trim. It was exactly what I wanted. Black Friday too, or close enough, so it was meant to be.

Except I didn’t need it. As I am trying this Christmas to limit myself to purchases I might use over those desired on a passing whim, I decided against. Just about. But it was a close-run thing.

I don’t really have call for a swanky coffee machine that loiters with all those other accoutrements of the modern kitchen without ever doing much. Think opposition backbencher or an Arsenal defender.

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We already have any number of plug-ins that were supposed to make our lives better elbowing each other for personal space on the cluttered counter.

Our George Foreman knock-off used to turn out a mean molten cheese and greasy bacon toastie, but the appeal quickly wore off. You could hear the arteries clog.

The Magic Bullet, George’s alter ego, was going to transform the entire family into prime specimens of glowing good health. But it just sits there instead, dust laden and in need of a work-out itself.

But my yearning to bag this Nespresso machine as a present to myself still nags away, my faux logic being that I’ll get the cash back on all those Americanos I won’t buy when I’m out.

The lies you tell yourself are often the biggest ones and that’s a whopper, because I just know I’ll still find myself drawn to Costa (free newspapers), Caffe Nero (comfy, cosey) and Butlers (gratis chocolate).

No, I want this silly machine because, despite my noble desire to improve myself and reset my moral compass, I am a simple, unthinking consumerist whore just like everyone else.

I like nice stuff. It exists, therefore I must buy. Double espresso anyone?

I’m starting to realise my number’s almost up

BANK branches still have humans working in them, not that you get to talk to them much. Good morning is about as far as it goes. Then you’re directed to a machine which most certainly won’t wish you good morning back.

I wanted to set up a standing order in my local, friendly AIB and found myself negotiating the process in what they call a kiosk.

Simple enough when you know how, but I never do. It is all based on the notion that not only do you have all the unique numbers required, but that you can remember them.

The impatient screen, which didn’t seem to like its job much, got tetchy. After an age of confusion, I punched in the IBAN number required instead of the one I had in mind and, with a great sense of accomplishment, retrieved my card and turned to leave. During that eternity it seems a significant queue had formed, snaking like a 1980s dole queue to the far recesses of the branch.

The looks I got combined hostility, resignation and pity.

Bloody machine, I said in contrived exasperation to no one in particular, so bloody slow.

Then I slunk away. Mortified…

Helena takes the crown with royal performance

The third series of ‘The Crown’ is receiving patchier reviews than the first two.

Much of that is coming to terms with Olivia Colman’s dour, middle-aged monarch after Claire Foy’s pretty, coy young queen.

Having just dipped my toe into series three, it’s Helena Bonham Carter’s Princess Margaret who steals the show instead. Outrageous, funny and unpredictable, she fills the screen in a way that her dowdy older sister can’t.

Perhaps they could give her a spin-off series. More gin and tonic than grin and bear it. They wouldn’t even have to make any of it up.

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