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OFF THE CUFF.

I LIKEN the relationship between real life and TV and film to the old chicken and egg conundrum. Do our favourite soap operas reflect they way we live our lives in terms of the sayings we use, the trends we sport and so on? Or are the shows and movies we watch the real pace-setters, introducing new phrases and fashions, which we merely follow? For example, is it just stressed-out detectives in police dramas who pour themselves neat scotch into a crystal glass at the end of a tough day? More to the point, if people do actually do that, is it only because they think it is what they should do, having originally seen it on the box? I inadvertently put the theory to the test this weekend as I made the trip to London. Walking from the tube to our hotel, I spotted a succession of continental-style cafes and patisseries with newspapers from around the world on sale and tables and chairs placed on the pavement, despite the frosty conditions. Immediately it conjured-up images from movies and telly shows of people seemingly without a care in the world, enjoying a piping hot coffee while taking in the day's news or catching up with old pals as they sip on a cappuccino.

It seemed such a relaxing scenario that I made a mental note of the street in question and vowed to return after dropping my bags off.

All was going perfectly well - I had a couple of hours to play with, meaning a relaxing coffee break was more than justified.

So I sauntered along, in my own mind already very much playing the role of the sophisticated city dweller on his way to his favourite haunt. But the figurative needle on the record player scratched the relaxing background music very much to a halt when I got there to find every table packed full of guests and a couple of doublepushchairs between me and the door.

I kept my cool, though, convincing myself my movie-scene experience was not unattainable and I could find myself playing the role of the suave gent watching the world go by.

My positive thoughts paid off when the young mothers' club made off, clearing the entire front of the cafe for me and my thoughts.

I gave my order and it was delivered to me in seconds at the counter. Next, I had to make my way to my table of choice outside, dodging the numerous patrons who were too soft to brave the elements.

Once there, I leaned back and pulled out my copies of Das Bild, the Wall Street Journal and, er, Viz, and tried to slip into sophistication mode. Realising there was not much left in my mug, I momentarily placed my paper down to take a slurp, only to discover I had left it so long that it was ice cold.

In disgust, I flung my arms up in the air - almost at the exact time a gust of wind got itself up and whisked two of my three papers off the table and sent them flying down the street.

Running after the blighters - while holding my hat so that didn't fall off as well - couldn't have been further removed from the movie scene I had envisaged.

Nor was the moment the waiter came chasing after me to get me to settle the bill I had just abandoned.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2009
Words:569
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