One aspect of living in London that I'm still getting used to is the flatmate turnaround. I've lived here for ten months and I've already lost count of how many people I've lived with. On one hand, it can be
To my delight, last night someone new moved into the empty bedroom next to mine that had been locked for two weeks - and he seemed to be relatively conscientious, well-mannered and didn't look like he had the stare of the devil (maybe not the first qualities you look for unless you're in this type of situation).
Within the first five seconds I discovered he was Italian, and within the first ten I realised this meant he was married to coffee. Five minutes later I was stood, awkwardly holding an espresso that burnt my brain as I breathed in, and weighing up what I'd prefer: the chance that he could see me pouring it down the drain, or drinking it and seriously risking a nervous breakdown.
An opening conversation with someone new usually covers where you come from, what job you do and how long you've lived in London. Our first conversation consisted of Mr Italian talking passionately about coffee as I resisted the urge to drown my espresso in milk.
He told me that he has never been into a Starbucks before, and on his first and only trip to a Costa, he spat out his coffee and started shouting at the barista who was responsible for his suffering. "It wasn't real coffee" he shouted, with a look of pure disgust.
As always, I excelled in the social situation and the secret came out that I drink instant, decaf coffee - hence why I was force-fed the espresso. I asked him if he ever drank a normal-sized coffee, rather than what looked to be no more than a mouthful's worth. He said no. I asked him if people ever drink cups of tea in Italy. He said no (and laughed). As I hovered over him unpacking, and holding the smallest mug in the world, I wondered how social situations work in Italy - because this one definitely wasn't.
I went back to my bedroom, mainly to disguise the sounds of choking, and realised how important a full mug really is to us Brits. A cup of tea is the first thing we do in most social situations. Perhaps it's because we're an innately awkward bunch, hiding behind a cup of tea like it's armour, whereas the Italians put nothing but a Polly Pocket-sized mug between themselves. What do they do with their hands? How do they fill awkward silences?
It pains me to think of awkward situations, such as meeting your partner's parents, for example, without a boiling kettle as background noise and a disarming mug of tea to stare at. Oh well, I need to go and hide my Pot Noodles before one of our brains explodes.