Sunday, 27 February 2011
How saddened I was to pass what was the Gaff (before that, it was the King's Head) only to see it miraculously transformed into a fucking Costa Coffee shop. I feel, along with Mark Steel - and I'm sure plenty of other people - that the homogenisation of our town and city centres is one of the more depressing aspects of the modern world. It's not that I was a particular fan of the Gaff, though I did occasionally pop in when it was still the King's Head, and was at least happy that - even just a few months ago - the place hosted such luminaries as the UK Subs at live gigs. The fact that it is now yet another link in an unwanted chain, in an area which has managed to retain at least a relative level of localism, sort of crushes the soul a little bit.
Why - how - do we need a coffee shop on the Holloway Road, when we have so many places doing just that already? I regularly get a coffee at a Moroccan place near the Coronet, and it's always good, and reasonably priced at £1.25. If you wish, you can have cream cakes for around a quid, crepes, croissants, trifles, sandwiches, baked potatoes... All the time, people of North African descent drop in and chat animatedly over an espresso, thankfully drowning out the sound of Heart FM on the radio. As with Caledonian Road not far away, ludicrously equipped with 5 mini supermarkets in the space of a few hundred yards, it won't be long before the smaller independents are driven out of business by the thundering juggernaut of Tesco or whichever other multinational corporation.
Costa Coffee will never - despite its weasel words on Rainforest Alliance and corporate responsibility - host a UK Subs gig. Another nail in the coffin of British pub life, this will not enrich our lives. Don't even get me started on the sodding Sainsbury opening up under the student flats...