It’s Saturday lunchtime and I have just squeezed myself into a tight corner of my local cafe for a ‘Cup’a’Joe’ and a warm, succulent, Chicken, Brie and spinach wrap.
And when I say ‘squeezed’ , I mean ‘shoehorned’; this place is rammed!! Wall-to-wall, the tables are full of shoppers, lunchers, hungover brunchers, and the occasional iPad wielding blogger.
And yet the soundtrack to our lives at the moment, if it were selected by the popular media, would be Simply Red’s seminal work ‘Money’s Too Tight to Mention’.
Every day we are brought down by news of shop closures, job losses, and price rises, most of which we can see evidence of with our own eyes. I am in no way suggesting that the recession is a myth; you only have to be a less-than-impressed holder of ‘Comet’ or ‘Jessops’ gift vouchers to know that it is all quite real.
But, I AM saying that the spread of ‘suffering’ is a peculiar and uneven one. Looking down the main shopping road of my home town, I can see empty premises and struggling businesses in permanent ‘SALE’ mode, and yet Coffee Shops, Bars, Cafe’s and Restaurants are routinely packed to the rafters.
A brief consideration as to why this might be throws up the thought that ‘Everyone’s got to eat sometime’ , somewhat along the lines of Maureen Lipman’s famous ‘People will always need plates’ line. But then it’s plain to see that a Hoisin Duck Salad washed down with an Extra Shot Skinny Latte cannot be classed as an ‘essential’.
Then we think of the social angle. Is it purely that we are not prepared to sacrifice time with our friends, however hard up we might be? This end could of course be achieved within our own homes, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Inviting friends to your home for lunch and a coffee seems to have become unfashionable, even though the truth of the matter is that better experience is likely to be had. When was the last time you were rushed off your table in your own home in favour of the next customer? And if the service is slow or the food poor, then you have no-one to blame but yourself!
Needless to say that a home made cake and some sandwiches prepared by your own fair hand would cost you less than the first round of Costa coffees!
Speaking of which, Costa Coffee’s turnover increased by 27.5% in the year 2011/12, and their profits by 38%.
If its a given that we all, on average, have a ‘paucity of moolah’ in 2013, it makes me wonder what we are sacrificing elsewhere to maintain our ‘Lady wot lunches’ lifestyle.
Answers on the back of a Starbucks napkin please………