This blog has been a bit quiet lately, mainly thanks to my own laziness. I’ll get back on the job shortly, but in the meantime, let’s have one of my occasional off-topic rants. Don’t worry, it’s not about Eurovision this time.
Yesterday a movement, charmingly calling itself Fuck Parade (though I understand Class War are behind it) attacked the much-lampooned Cereal Killers Cafe in London, which is run by hipster twins. Because gentrification and housing prices and down with capitalism and something something stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I carry no banner for hipsters. I like my jeans and t-shirts baggy and comfy, not skin tight. I like my tea to be PG Tips, not organic chai latte. I can’t grow a handlebar moustache because, despite being in my 30s, any attempt just looks like teenage bumfluff. Which is a bit of a shame, because I’d rather like one of those. It’s also fair to say I won’t be scoffing rice krispies at Cereal Killers any time soon – not least because I don’t live anywhere near London.
Even so, some cafe that sells breakfast cereals is the enemy of the poor and the downtrodden? Really? Two guys running a slightly silly small business are responsible for London property prices? That’s just ridiculous.
Some people have been criticising the business by suggesting that they sell “overpriced” bowls of cereal. I’ve a bit more research than most of the people who’ve made that claim. By which I mean that I’ve browsed their online menu. Prices vary depending on whether you order a regular type of cereal that you can get down the road, or whether you go for something imported, and also what size of bowl you ask for. But basically a medium bowl of a common-or-garden cereal will cost you £3. Yes, that’s more than you pay if you just pour yourself some Shreddies at home, but how is that different to sitting down and ordering a sandwich in a cafe compared to making yourself a butty in your kitchen? It’s not as if, when you get a cup of tea in a cafe, you only pay the price of a tea bag. Because cafes have staff costs, rents, utility bills and other expenses to pay.
On the subject of tea, how much would I part with if I asked for my preferred cup of non-hipster brew at Cereal Killers? £1.80. In other words, perfectly normal cafe prices.
Some people have bandied around the figure of £5 a bowl to show that the cafe is overpriced. From the menu, the only way to get to that sum is to order a large bowl of an imported brand with an extra topping. Something costs more if you go for something premium or unusual, and if you ask for more of it? This is ground-breaking economics here.
So, once you get past the kaftan and enormous beards, is this really anything particularly offensive or oppressive? Frankly, it just seems like a regular cafe that has given itself a particular USP in order to make it stand out from all the other cafes. Simply another small, family-run business trying to get by in the world. These guys really aren’t the enemy, no matter what you think of their fashion sense.
Arguably, the people involved in Fuck Parade have turned themselves into a mirror image of the Bullingdon crowd they (and I) despise so much. From a group of people with a similar outlook on life, go out and find people you define as “other”, and perform criminal acts against them for the sin of not being people like them.
The analogy isn’t completely accurate, as for one thing Fuck Parade and Class War don’t possess money or influence. Which is probably a good thing, because I’ve no doubt most of them couldn’t organise a breakfast in a Kellogg factory. Not that the Bullingdon alumni could either.
“The working classes outside looked from Bullingdon to Fuck Parade, and from Fuck Parade to Bullingdon, and from Bullingdon to Fuck Parade again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.”