There’s been a lot of contention about the Cereal Killer Cafe that’s just opened up in Brick Lane, serving over 120 cereals from around the world at the price of £3.20 for a large bowl. Perhaps it was the owner’s matching beards (they’re twins) that were partly to blame for the uproar, the cries of ‘Burn the Hipster!’ echoing in the streets. Well, I for one would rather have a world where small businesses with imagination and passion are allowed to have a go, than one where every high street looks the same and Starbucks charge us just as much for mixing some coffee grounds, water and milk in a paper cup, and then don’t even pay tax on it.
Yes, Brick Lane can be crappy and overpriced, but it’s also a vibrant hub of creativity and oddness, where you can still get a stall for a fiver on a Sunday and sell broken bits of dolls and stained pyjamas if that’s what you’re into. It’s what happens when an area is impoverished – arty people move there because they can’t afford the other areas. And it’s great – I love walking around next to a million other people, pushing each other through brightly graffitied streets and puddles of noise. It’s a shame that the area then becomes trendy and eventually ruined (like Camden), but this cafe, I think, is on the good end of that spectrum. At least it’s doing something unique…. The main reason I give a shit is this appalling interview by Channel 4:
The questions are stupid and ineptly delivered: if he’s trying to make the point that a lot of people live in poverty in the area, it is indeed a problem but he’s really talking to the wrong people. This cafe quite obviously isn’t for everyone – it’s a novelty, and as much about looking ‘cool’ as providing a service (cereal). Which you might well find annoying. But ambushing and blaming a small business owner on the first week of opening is just plain unfair.
Gary Keery is evidently seething, and later wrote an open letter to Channel 4:
Good. I hope Symeon Brown gets some better ideas for interviews if he wants to be like Paxman or host one of those shows where they trap peadophiles or cheaters for entertainment. In the second half of the interview he gets even more annoying.
I’ll just end with a quote from Rob Manuel, editor of Us Vs Th3m, who went into the cafe to give his ‘cynical take on it’ and ended up changing his mind.
‘at this point I feel it’s time to wind up my time here… and think about what an extraordinary turn-around I’ve had. I walked in with preconceived ideas, and then I met their parents and I couldn’t honestly pretend to hate the place.
I wonder if we’re all walking around in a sea of cynicism, fuelled by social media, competitive negative opinions, hating everything?
Maybe it’s eroding our ability to just enjoy something? Maybe we all need to make friends with our inner Cereal Killer Cafe.’