Fifty People

I’ve been reading “Fifty People who Buggered Up Britain” by Quentin Letts.

I bought it thinking it might be fairly amusing, and with the chapters in alphabetical order it starts off promisingly enough, lambasting Bliar, Brown, Beeching and Boyson, before moving on to dodgy MPs and various media executives, including the ones responsible for Big Brother and EastEnders. He’s obviously struggled to reach his fifty, though, as his ire is also directed at various Church of England officials, Graham Kendrick (the songwriter responsible for Shine Jesus Shine), and Howard Schultz, the man behind Starbucks.

Now I’m no fan of Starbucks. When I first started working in London, the novelty of having a coffee shop close by was attractive – and I must admit that being a Starbucks regular (and even having a Starbucks loyalty card) felt very metropolitan and a bit top-flight. I soon realised that their coffee was well overpriced – and I didn’t actually like it very much anyway. It’s an expensive way to get a scalded tongue, a caffeine-induced headache and a sour taste in the mouth.

But I don’t really think it’s fair to accuse Starbucks of Buggering Britain: they may be on every High Street, and they may have driven traditional “Caffs” out of business – but that’s a symptom of a problem, not a cause. People didn’t go to Starbucks – and keep going back – just because it was there. They went because they preferred Starbucks to the traditional alternative: maybe they liked the metropolitan chic, maybe they just preferred the more hygienic surroundings – either way it seems a bit unfair to blame the man who’s provided the preferred service. It seems a bit like blaming the Wright brothers for 9/11.

I’ll just stick with making my own coffee – it’s cheaper that way, and tastes far better.

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