In UK cities coffee shops are everywhere and all pretty much the same.
I recently visited my old home, a piddly little market town in Leicestershire and it has only recently acquired its first franchised coffee shop. It is, I have observed, a pitiful and embarrassing caricature of its city cousins.
It took five staff to prepare me a pot of Earl Grey and put a slice of carrot cake on a plate: One to ask what I wanted, another to set the wheels in motion and get the teapot. Third one gets a teacup as a fourth enquires about the reason for the teapot, whilst fifth gets a teabag in and adds water. Number one then needs a reminder on the cake front as number two lifts it onto a plate. Number three works the till whilst remarking that number four might want to rest their arm, which is in a gross plastic splint and sling and looks like it might smell.
I got the impression that they saw themselves as something akin to a gang of Butlins Red Coats during peak season. The reality was more like a load of ex guests from The Jeremy Kyle show had been given their first ever jobs and, unfamiliar with the new found smartness of their polyester mix uniforms start acting all hyperactive like a bunch of kids at a wedding disco.
Finally, when I sit down with my drink and snack, I am amazed to see a load of dirty cups and plates on every table. Each member of staff trying to hog the stage/counter lest they be seen wiping a table. I mean, come on, you were on Jeremy Kyle last week, it’s all uphill from here. Number four can’t do it though, obviously as she has a gammy arm.