The last two weekends, I’ve been driving back into London on the M4. It’s changing. First, there are Olympic banners strapped to every lamppost between Heathrow and Chiswick. But stranger than that is the incredible smell of roasting coffee. It happens just before Heston Services, giving you just enough time to picture a frothy cappuccino like a cartoon mirage, slam on the brakes, and swerve onto the slip road up to the Heston Food Court.
Maybe it’s like supermarkets pumping a simulated aroma of baking in order to make its customers feel suddenly hungry. Or perhaps it’s like the advice if you’re selling your home to have a freshly brewed pot of coffee.
It’s hard to say if its a devious marketing device aimed at IOC committee members or commuters who though approaching their destination would just love to prolong their motorway-limbo just a little longer.
Or maybe, just as Nigel Coates once suggested transforming the Heathrow Post House (or whatever its now called) into a gateway to London, this aroma cloud marks your entry into (or out of) the cappuccino slurping metropolitan, pseudo continental, multicultural, capital of the UK. Marking the transition between cockney coffee fetishists and the rest of the country where Nescafe, washing up liquid and bubbles blown through a straw usually suffice.
Whatever the reason, it beats the stinking sewage works as you approach Windsor.