I apologise for the lack of bloggage recently. I would dearly like to tell you that the hiatus has been due to my spending quality time with an outstanding woman, but I’m afraid the quality time has been spent with Commandos 2: Men of Courage, and the outstanding woman remains afar off. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Burma has been more or less liberated, and I am currently in the process of rescuing a Resistance man from Colditz. No easy task, as I’m sure you can imagine. However, I have looked up from my computer screen long enough to pick up a copy of the Guardian, wherein I read an article on the world’s finest (and most expensive, surely) coffee maker, the Clover. This mostly hand-made machine makes coffee so good that retailers can afford to charge getting on for £10 a cup. Step forward Starbucks, purveyors of evil-tasting coffee. According to the article, Howard Schmuck, or is it Schultz, the Dark Angel in charge of the Starbucks Legions, was so upset that they no longer had the most overpriced coffee on the high street that he promptly bought the company that makes the Clover. Which means that if the coffee from these things really is that good, independent coffee shops will no longer have access to it, which is a dastardly ploy typical of the fiends.
Or perhaps it’s just a successful capitalist tactic. And here’s where I struggle. I can consider myself both a capitalist and a socialist, depending on which way the wind’s blowing at the time. I buy the Daily Telegraph from time to time, and the Guardian at other times. I sometimes even read them, and find myself amused by their extreme right and left winged-ness. I wear, with some pride, a T-shirt bearing a mock-up of the Starbucks logo with the words “Big Bucks Capitalism” replacing their name, and bask in the compliments from dissident-minded student types who like it. But I work for a company that is essentially capitalist in nature, and enjoy it. As I see it, capitalism rewards hard work. A socialist approach, while brilliant in theory, will inevitably be milked by those in our society who can’t be bothered to work and are more than happy to live off the hard work of others. But capitalism is also fallible, and susceptible to corruption, by corporations who grow too large to be bothered with ethics. Starbucks, I am sure, don’t even feature on the map of the world’s most unethical companies. They obtain their coffee from Fair Trade sources, I am assured, and pay the best prices for it. But somewhere along the way they make it taste really bad (I know, I know, that’s a matter of opinion) and charge outrageous prices for it (that’s indisputable) and place their outlets in every street in every land, even in France, where they should know better, adding to the global homegeneity and making me upset. And that’s, more or less, why I don’t like them.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Starbucks were referred to in the article as an “ailing coffee giant”. How I like that description. Jones informs me that 650 out of 830 Starbucks have closed. I presume he means in Australia, which is where he was when he told me that. And presumably they’re properly closed this time, rather than closing for a few hours to teach their baristas how to make coffee (you’d think they might have thought about doing that earlier).
When Starbucks finally falls catastrophically from its position in the global financial firmament, there’ll be a party at my place, and you’re all invited. Let’s hope it’s not overly soon, though, as my kitchen ceiling collapsed last week under the weight of a not insignificant amount of leaking water from upstairs. Not a problem, mum has returned to her position as chief cook and clothes washer, and I have moved my Command Centre to the living room. Colditz has been conquered (this blog was a while in the writing) and I’m about to liberate Paris. Vive la Résistance!