Seven euros for an espresso is more than over the top, but I have a friend who invites me once a week to take coffee with him at the Monte-Carlo Bay – motto: Where Our Spirit Meets Your Style – and since he always offers to pay I always take him up on it.

I have a soft spot for this hotel because it’s where Marcel Ravin works. I have been told this by reliable sources and I also read it on Monaco Daily News, where the exotic and talented chef was interviewed a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I’ve never seen him in the coffee shop, or lounge, or whatever it is where the priceless espressos are served. Perhaps he gets a coffee or two ‘on the house.’ And no doubt he has work to do.

I can’t say I enjoy the coffee very much, because as I sip it I work out that the cost of that miniature hint of coffee beans is the same as 12 baguettes at Carrefour.

Twelve baguettes

Have you ever tried carrying 12 baguettes? They never stay in the place you want them to. Always slipping out of your arms, usually behind you as you rush, carefully, for the number 4. It’s a nightmare almost on a par with paying seven euros for coffee.

“Don’t you agree,” my friend asked. I nodded furiously in agreement, then coughed a lot, because this can work either way. Either I did agree with whatever it was he said and the cough got in the way or I was coughing while nodding to help the constriction in my throat. It’s an old trick.

But even getting into the coffee shop has its challenges.

I had kept my face still long enough for my features to be scanned at the main entrance until a green light came up that allowed my to make my way through the OTT revolving doors into the plush main hall where half a dozen uniformed SBM employees try to look busy behind their desks. They do this while looking down all the time, so how they know a Monsieur has just arrived beats me.

I tried to slip into place on the sofa without being noticed. A fail. A somewhat bossy lady asked for my Vaccination Pass. I tried to log in to my UK National Health app that tells me I’ve been jabbed. My son borrows my phone to access all sorts of things, although I have pleaded with him not to upload, or is it download, anything risqué on my handy. He takes no notice of course, as he’s now one foot taller than me, but it could be embarrassing if anyone else sees the invitations I get to be friends with scantily clad girls who don’t look a day over 12. So finding the right app takes time.

To log in I need to show the telephone my face, which means lowering my mask.

Ah, Monsieur, euh, euh, etc. etc,” says the bossy boots, determined I follow the rules of mask-wearing at all times.

I ask for five minutes to find my Covid black and white pattern thing. There is a large sofa that enables this sitting down. I could sit here for a while, taking in the ambience, without drinking a coffee.

But I find the black and white pattern and present myself again. It works, and the disappointed young lady escorts me to a table where no-one else will see me, not even my black-clad friend with the price of 12 baguettes to spare.