If we continue in our current way there can only be more war and more poverty. While some large corporations plunder our planet for short term gain the ecological poverty that is caused will affect us all. Above all we need inclusion for every human being not replacement by technology, technology must be used to aid us in reducing our individual workload not replacing individuals. The information revolution must be used to connect individuals and not in some of the vacuous ways we see at the moment in social media. Individuals who buy food and clothes from other countries must be connected with the individuals who grow the coffee and who pick the cotton or sew the clothes that they buy. Only then will we be able to stop the horrendous exploitation that occurs between 1st world consumers and 3rd world producers.
I was in a supermarket the other day and was slightly annoyed by a hip and possibly cool young dude on his mobile whose conversation was being shared with many of the rest of us shoppers whether we liked it or not. What really really annoys me though is the lack of respect for the staff working in the supermarket. I saw this, let’s call him ignorant fellow for the sake of politeness, ordering cheese from the cheese counter whilst still carrying on his vacuous conversation. All people in our service industries should be able to say “I won’t be serving you unless you engage with me and get off your phone”. Mobile technology is wonderful, loss of being respectful is appalling. Every human deserves respect. And then I found this photo which I think says it in some way. It was taken in a small shop selling coffee and tea in Oxford, a great little place that had obviously been visited by the same sort of ignorant cool dude that I had had to suffer. RESPECT, it costs nothing. Copyright Paul Andrews and Caroline Schmutz, Junagarh Media, http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk
While I love London and live and work in it there is something very tawdry about it compared with Paris. Tourists come here to see the historical sites but also to get ripped off in places like Madame Tussauds. When and why did that get so expensive? I guess they have to pay image rights to make wax models of dreary celebrities. Then of course there are the chain shops with their pile em high, sell em cheap. So London is becoming the chav shopping capital of the world.
Now take Paris, lots of independent shops, cafes and restaurants and not so many Starcoffee and Costa Bucks. At a recent concert we attended the main artist didn’t finish until 11:40 but few if any people left before the end. If that had been London it would have had to finish by about 10pm and people would be rushing to get out to get their last train. London, it really isn’t rock and roll like Paris. And after the concert, well you just go to a little bar on the corner of the street where your hotel is and that is open to 2am in the morning. No having to pay a fortune and get past a bouncer to get in for overpriced past 11pm drinks.
And then there is the architecture, Paris is beautiful and old, London has been flogged off so that the Qataris and Chinese can rip it apart and do what they want because in London money talks whereas in Paris it is French and it is known as the City of Lights. It is a beautiful city and has what London can’t have because London has been sold off so that the get rich quick merchants can buy their new Bentleys and Range Rovers.
There is much that London could learn from Paris but the authorities can’t see and won’t listen.
A sign outside one of the many independent coffee shops of London with a philosophical question about the pleasures and addictiveness of that warm brown liquid that many of us crave. I would like to say though that if some of the farmers growing coffee around the world lack access to clean drinking water (780 million people) and proper sanitation (over a billion humans) then the profits from drinking coffee especially from the multinationals, you know who I mean, are not fairly being distributed and reaching the growers. Until every coffee farmer has these basic amenities coffee drinking is still not entirely civilised. Copyright Junagarh Media, http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk.
As you can probably guess I’m a great fan of individuality and have a definite hatred of corporate blandness. Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit one of my favourite eating and drinking places in Lausanne Switzerland called the Brasserie Bavaria situated at Rue du Petit-Chêne 10. I’m glad to say that nothing notable seems to have changed. The simple wooden seating is still chipped and scratched and the paintings above the wooden paneling look as yellow as ever probably through age and previous generations smoking in there. The clientele are mixed, from all ages, on their own or as groups of two or more. They drink tea, coffee, beer and wine. They are there to relax, to talk or if they are on their own to read the paper or just watch the world go buy through the large window. And then there is the honesty, none of this paying upfront. You order what you want and the bill is placed on your table. This is a very civilised place. In the middle is a long table where if it gets busy enough you will have to sit and maybe engage in conversation with complete strangers. How nice is that in the modern time of plug yourself in and shut the world out? It is an amazing place and if you visit Switzerland you would be mad to miss it. If you live in Lausanne then it’s a must as places like these need all the support that they can get in time of corporate creep as they dissolve our individuality.
David v Goliath might be the next Hollywood blockbuster, they must be making it after having made Noah etc, but in the real world Goliath Inc, Goliath Corp and Goliath PLC kill and trample all over David the good guy. And here is just another tale of the little guys losing out to the corporate monsters. So let’s start with a couple of photos to illustrate who the good guys are. This is the canal boat, Word on the Water, a floating bookshop and poetry venue. And this is the cat that lives on the boat. The photos were taken near one entrance of Paddington station on the Grand Union Canal. In an article titled, “Paddington bare”, Private Eye explains that the Canal and River Trust have selected British Land to take two new permanent trade moorings and you can guess where :-). They plan to open a floating coffee shop and “Welcome centre” in the two moorings. The article adds that there are already more than a dozen coffee outlets in the area including one on a canal boat. So huge evil corporation that has spent £470 million (how much of that is debt?) buying up the local area versus a small independent business and cultural space. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the ending and it isn’t a Hollywood one. Story copyright of Private Eye. Buy it, you will be amazed.
I’m just amazed at how many of my fellow human beings allow themselves to be treated like sheep or some other dumb animals by the evil corporations and their marketing departments. Let’s start with zero hour contracts and how they are just an evil manifestation of corporate greed and how they are taking away the possibility of a good life for many of our younger generation. For the fast food outlets operating this despicable form of employment it would be so easy to add a small percentage to each sale and pay people a decent regular wage. What can we do about it? That’s funny because the Internet gives us all this power to kick the butt of corporate retail and yet nobody is doing it. Everything is based on trends but we the buying public have the power to mess with the corporate mind as much as screw around in ours. If we got ourselves organised just imagine what we could do. Consider two corporate crap food outlets selling our favourite food, corporate A and corporate B. All we got to do is talk to each other on the Internet and then for one week flash mob Corporate A and leave Corporate B empty and then the next week reverse the trend. We can do this. We are slowly losing control to corporations and to technology but it doesn’t have to be that way. We could play the same game with corporate coffee houses or anywhere like that, supermarkets, we can really mess with their heads or we can remain in the paddock and wait for the slaughter of the innocents. It is our choice people and if I remember the words of a song from a few years ago, “take a chance while you still gotta choice”. I leave you with that thought.
As much as I like Neil Young for all the great music that he has produced over the many years of his long career I find his boycott of Starbucks a little late in the day. There are plenty of reasons to boycott and to actually hate Starbucks starting with not paying their tax, screwing their employees with zero hour contracts, their unfair competition with independent cafes and I expect if we dig deep enough their screwing of producers in the supply chain. Did you ever see anybody in the upper part of the coffee supply chain lack water, sanitation, education for their kids, adequate health systems etc. I bet your bottom coffee bean that if you look at the producers of coffee all these “lack of” issues can be found. I think I’ll stick to the independents where possible and perhaps if you are a free thinker you will too. Then again maybe you are a dead head who doesn’t care about the human beings who actually grow your coffee. Think about it and where you spend that precious cash.