I remember thinking, when we returned to the UK six years ago (gosh, that long already!), what a rich country it seemed to be. For me, the change seemed to be summed up by the coffee bars that had sprung up everywhere – even in Sainsbury’s. When I’d left the country, in 1989, there had been much more of a chill economic wind blowing. Nobody would have dreamed of shelling out £2.50 or more at regular intervals throughout the day for a strangely milky mug of coffee (I’ve never caught the latte bug). I felt like some sort of refugee from a make-do-and-mend era, with my scandalised attitude towards the price of hot beverages.
I admit, too, that my puritanical streak made me suspicious of the sheer moral degeneracy implicit in cheering up a dreary chore like supermarket shopping with a jolly cappuccino break. Surely the road to hell was paved with cinnamon macchiatos and muffins? And what about muffins? When I’d waved goodbye to Blighty, the only muffin one ever heard about was Muffin the Mule. Now, all of a sudden, it was banana and bran here and blueberry there, with muffins, each the size of a toddler’s head, on sale here, there and everywhere.
Now, I’m just amazed that all the coffee shops are still staying open. Or maybe we’re just such hopeless coffee addicts, now, that no one can face weaning themselves off their £10-a-day latte fix, even in the grip of all this economic misery. And all right, I admit to being hopelessly hooked on muffins. Who isn’t? They’re light, they’re reasonably healthy *ahem, maybe not the one in my picture* and, if you make them yourself, they don’t even taste of bicarbonate of soda.
Look, we’re all in this together, aren’t we? Obviously the politicians are making their usual mess of things, but we, the people, must make sure that, no matter which banks implode, notwithstanding the whole of Greece sinking into the financial mire, we must keep our muffin tops afloat on a sea of coffee. I’m relying on you.