I may have mentioned a couple of times that I’m a fan of romantic comedies and although the genre has been through a lull for much of this century, there is still the odd delight, one such being “Up In The Air” starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga.
Despite it turning the traditional formula on its head somewhat, it is one of my all-time favourites and is definitely up there with “The Holiday” at the top of the “Romcom of this Millennium” rankings.
George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, an HR consultant who specialises in laying off employees and he spends his life in the air traveling across the US from one corporate to another with only a cloak and scythe in his hand luggage.
He is a bit of a lone wolf; however, on one such trip, he falls for a fellow frequent flier, Alex, played by Vera Farmiga, although it transpires (SPOILER ALERT) that Alex is actually a married mother and just when George is ready to change his life and settle down with her, the door is literally slammed in his face.
It is much deeper, and darker, than the normal romcom as it paints a rather bleak picture of Bingham’s life and there is no happy ending either with more questions than answers for Ryan; however, as a feminist, it is great to watch a film which puts the power in the hands of the woman for once.
The plot line of relevance to this rambling blog though is that Clooney is striving to become the youngest person to reach ten million air miles with American Airlines and receive lifetime platinum status, presumably as some sort of external validation of his rather sad life. He finally achieves this feat towards the end the film when he gets a tap on his shoulder from the pilot on one particular flight, not that it actually provides him with the satisfaction that he craves.
So why am I warbling on about this?
Well, I think I’ve got a nasty case of the Bingham’s.
Whereas Ryan Bingham spends his life on various American Airlines’ flights, I spend my life in Costa Coffee. As someone who is self-employed and ‘works from home’, I find that Costa has become my office of choice, largely because it doesn’t have the obvious distractions of Sky Sports and Netflix and it is a mere 500 yards from my house.
I’m a big fan of Costa, partly because I like the fact that it was established in the same year that I was, namely 1971, but, more importantly, the coffee’s good and I have to say that the one I frequent at the bottom end of St Leonard’s Road, Windsor, is without doubt the best coffee shop I’ve been in over the last 20 years.
Great coffee, extremely spacious, excellent service by an always friendly staff, managed admirably by Ava and supported brilliantly by Charlie, Aga and Romy, among others. They even gave me a free brownie on my birthday – what more could I ask for?
[If that positive review together with the headline doesn’t get me a damn retweet and a lifetime platinum card or its equivalent, I don’t know what will!]
However, I have become slightly obsessed, as is my wont, and in the same way that Ryan Bingham was waiting for that “Excuse me, Sir, may I have a word” when he finally reached ten million air miles, I’ve got my fingers crossed for that moment when I reach the 10,000 Costa Coffee points mark (no mean feat, I hate to think how much I’ve spent here over the last couple of years) and Mr Costa pops in to show his appreciation and hand over that rare beast, the Black Costa Coffee card. [Don’t tell me they don’t exist!]
To be clear, I’ve largely played by the rules and haven’t made bulk corporate purchases to boost my points tally. There was a rather generous bacon roll offer recently that got me thinking about clearing out the bacon rolls in every Costa in Berkshire each morning to aid my quest, like the Tesco’s banana loyalty scheme debacle in 1997, but I kept to just the one a day.
I reckon I’ll reach the grand landmark in about two months’ time, so that should give enough time to schedule something appropriate in Dominic Paul’s diary and get the local TV crew ready; just give me the nod and I’ll make sure I’m “working from home” that day.