Dom Joly: Hubble bubble...
PUBLISHED: 16:47 19 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:47 19 May 2016
...toil and trouble. Tea and tapoica? This Oriental invention has a hold on my daughter and now I'm running a delivery service for her friends at school
It’s been 13 years since I left the Big Smoke and moved down to the Cotswolds for a life of rural bliss. It’s been so long that I sometimes forget that I once swore blind that I would never live anywhere outside the Circle Line. Time does funny things to a man – like making Canada more and more attractive or allowing one to consider wearing corduroy.
I don’t think I’ve ever regretted the move. Sure – there’s the odd outburst when I’m stuck in the traffic black hole around Oxford or when I think about the price of train tickets to London… Generally however, it’s been nothing but positive.
Having said this, there are still a couple of things missing from Cheltenham that would make my life perfect, and I insist that these be sorted immediately.
Firstly there’s the thorny issue of Wagamamas. Why does Cheltenham not have one? I know we have the lovely Bar and Wok and the wonderful Koubi, but I have an addiction to Wagamamas and I truly feel that the chain is disrespecting the town by not opening a branch here. When filming around the UK, it is common for the crew and I to judge a town or city by the quality of chains available. A great destination always has a Pizza Express and a Wagamama. When you sojourn in a place with only an Ask Italian and a Frankie and Benny’s then morale is low…
I also need a good Lebanese restaurant – something along the lines of the truly sublime Maroush outlets in London. For those of you unfamiliar with the culinary exceptionalism of Lebanese cuisine, I can only sympathise. You have missed out on one of life’s great pleasures. For my liking, there are still too many restaurants in the Cotswolds with ideas above their stations. I booked a table at a new one the other day and was asked to pay a deposit of £30 a head in case we didn’t show up. This immediately put my back up. I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and have never been asked to do this. Unsurprisingly, the place in question was underwhelming. I can forgive poncey, try-hard food but never bad atmosphere.
My third demand is not really for me – it’s for my daughter. She suffers from addiction, a powerful and insidious addiction to Bubble Tea. If you are not aware of this product, consider yourself financially fortunate. It all started, so legend has it, in Taiwan. Some bright spark started making drinks that consisted of mixing a tea base with fruit to which chewy tapioca balls are added. The idea soon started a fad and Bubbleology outlets started popping up everywhere (except Cheltenham). The staff sport lab coats and are surrounded by bubbling test tubes and other cod-science paraphernalia that serve to make the whole experience even more surreal. Whenever I go up to London I am handed a long list of orders for these drinks. This has become increasingly expensive and annoying. My daughter (but not, me) charges a ‘delivery premium’ to friends at school and I am often to be found sitting on the train home with seven or eight of these large plastic cups in a bag at my feet. I’m tempted to set one up myself except I’m not the entrepreneurial type and I’m a tad worried that my kids would get high on their own supply.
It’s crazy the hold this Oriental invention has on my daughter. We’ve just been for a break in Seville – one of my favourite European cities. What did my daughter post on Instagram? Not the wonderful cathedral, not the impressive Plaza de Espana, not even the beautifully dressed inhabitants of horse-drawn carriages on their way to the Feria. No, she posted photos of the Melon and Mango Bubble Tea that she had bought after we’d scoured the city for an outlet. Somebody is making a lot of money, and sadly it’s not me.
Come on, Cheltenham. You’re supposed to be a top, posh town. We’re even getting a John Lewis for God’s sake. Get your act in order.
Follow Dom on Twitter! @domjoly