(It is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I am so sorry).
I think I may have mentioned, on occasion, that when stressy, I lose the off-switch for my brain and develop insomnia (fret me not with your counsel, I have been like this since I was six weeks old and frankly, the only thing that really works is not getting stressed in the first place). So, currently, I am not sleeping. To sleep, at this time, I need perfect warmth, perfect stillness, perfect pyjamas and perfect darkness. As the bed partner has developed a cold (another cold! What in hell do they feed him at work?), I am faced with the idiotic choice between staying in the warm comfortable bed thinking: ‘Stop coughing. Stop coughing. Stop – oh, he’s stopped. Now his nose is whistling. Wake up. Wake up. Now roll over. Oh, dammit, now he’s coughing again. Oh God, he’s snoring. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it,’ ad infinitum, or moving to the spare room and thinking ‘This bed is too hard. I’m cold. I need the loo. This bed is really hard. Why’s it so quiet? I need the loo. It’s cold,’ ad infinitum.
I could always get up and read, but that rather defeats the object of being a hard-core whiner, don’t you think?
Anyway, two nights of that, and approximately three hours sleep, no, not per night, but in toto, yes, I know, not good, and no I did not fall down in a deep sleep smack in the middle of the lunch queue but believe me I wanted to, what was I talking about? [One moment please. I must just reach over there and slap her awake - Ed].
Ah yes. this morning, the one thing hauling me onwards through all the vagaries of commuting (what is it with trains? Why do they not turn up? Why do they not turn up when you’re tired? Are they allergic to yawning?) was the thought of AMT, the Best Little Coffee Stand in London. Organic milk, Fairtrade coffee, giant squishy pretzels, a scary fresh orange squeezer, and the smiliest staff. Smiley staff. On a Wednesday morning. With nothing to look at but a bazillion snarly commuters and pigeon-spattered paving. Oh, how I love that coffee stall. It can power me all the way to nearly lunch-time. Oh yes. And it’s right next to Boots, so I can top up on Rennies and aspirin while I’m at it. Ahhh, drugs.
The coffee stand is gone.
There is a square, rusty shadow on the pavement. There is no coffee stand.
Now, I knew their contract with Network Rail was up for renewal. I vaguely knew that they had been out-bid by CaffÃ© Nero, who, while not actively sucking (Costa, I’m looking at you. Expensive and crap? I am so not transferring my loyalties), are not my lovely smiley 100% Fairtrade organic milk providers, and will not make me feel like a Good Person while I stagger woozily towards the buses.
What I did not know, is that AMT, thanks to Network Rail’s cheerfully rapacious decision-making, have now lost 40% of their retail outlets. That probably means that 40% of my amazingly smiley people, including Aziz, who was so polite and smiley he regularly made me almost tearful at the wonderful goodness of my fellow humans, have to find new jobs. I can only hope they have found new, better, jollier jobs. And I did not know that AMT were shafted by their own desire not to shaft us, their snarly commuters, by upping the coffee prices so they could out-bid CaffÃ© Nero. See that link to Network Rail above? I linked it to their contacts page. I have already politely emailed them my displeasure. And now you can too, if you wish.
Oh, and not that this story was in the National news. Oh no. I found it on New Consumer, and Hippy Shopper. You did know that London is trying to achieve Fairtrade City status, didn’t you? Not very heart-warming, is it?