Peace at last: you've survived the queue, plonked your laptop and copy of Nuts on the floor, and gimbal-like, glide-guided your inadequate tray to a tabletop landing John Travolta would be proud of. The sun is shining; the pigeons are busy molesting another table; and even that bloody awful busker has gone for a break (his neck, hopefully). Easing into the firm and friendly embrace of your Conran-lite seat, you relax and rest an elbow on the table, throwing caution to the wind.
Shit. SHITTT!! Scalding Americano (black) has just seared the flesh of your designer-Tshirted arm. Baffled, you look round for other signs of the earth tremor (Richter 0.01) which has obviously just occurred; yet all is as before. The pigeons still stalk that young mother and her charge's bun at the adjacent table; the five unbelievably loud tourists at the other adjacent table (who sat down just after you did) are lighting up foul-smelling Euro-fags - for all the world as if the word Pompeii means nothing to them. So..? Ah.
Ah-HA. The table. The table is an Unstable Table. (To give it a label.) Annoyed - and scarred - you turn to the offending ground beneath: only, it proves to be curiously inoffensive. Clearly laid by a descendant of elite Roman mosaic artisans, it is as flat and level as a Dutch bowling green. Sighing, you wad up the seventeen napkins you were given, to facilitate mess-free consumption of your brownie (a task made easier by the fact they are now all sodden with Americano), find which of the FOUR (count 'em) table legs is dangling like a miniature crane, and shove them under. Sighing again, you retrieve your magazine and flip it open to 'Quantum Mechanics and the Wonderbra', finally taking a sip on what's left of your coffee.
If only it had been Empire, not Nuts. That recent commemorative edition guest-edited by SS himself, and featuring lots of lovely pictures of directors at work, using technology sometimes so advanced, it is difficult to believe it even exists. And, of course, other technology: simple, time-tested over decades and utterly indispensable to modern film-making. Technology on which their multi-million movies entirely depend, and without which, they would be unwatchable. Technology like the Tripod.