So, where were you when you first heard about the Cereal Cafe?

You know the one. The twin’s with beards are running it in Shoreditch. They are basically only selling cereal and cereal based cakes and gifts.

cereal killers 500
Pretty much everyone has an opinion on it. My facebook feed for one, was filled with a mixture of outrage that two brothers might have the audacity to open a cafe selling only cereal, a lot of “hipster” put-downs and jibes, and even a bit of begrudging admiration for having the idea in the first place.

My opinions on the whole affair have gone from “that’ll never take off”, to “good luck to them I guess” and now, well, I’m pretty offended by the media shit-storm the two blokes running the cafe have had to put up with really.

I’m going to start by saying that I was initially slightly in the “Oh lord, what will people think of next” camp when I first heard about the opening of this cafe. Then I happened to see a feature on TV where the two brothers were chatting about sourcing rare breakfast cereals, where the idea for the cafe came from, and how they had tried to raise money to fund their business, and even slightly bizarrely sharing cereal “recipes” with the viewers. Although it all seemed very silly and gimmicky (and to some extent it still does), I did feel a bit differently – clearly they hadn’t just come up with an idea whilst out on the piss and rolling in at three in the morning (“God I’d love a bowl of cerea…HANG ON I’ve got an AMAZING idea bro!”) but they’d put thought into, and managed to get someone to help them raise the costs of starting up a business – no mean feat in this economic climate. 

So although part of me still had reservations about how sound the idea was, I stopped laughing outright at the idea, and started keeping my fingers crossed it might work. Dreams are easy to have but difficult to make real after all.

Then I saw this, and now I’m definitely Team Cereal.

There is not a part of this nasty little clip that frankly doesn’t make my blood boil. 

You can basically tell from the get-go that the interviewer is trying to catch him out and make him look bad. Doing this on the opening day of a new and actually still small (despite the media coverage) business seems plain nasty to me. The general flavour of the interview has a very sneering unpleasant undertone, almost as if people with different ideas, or who can be broadly categorised as “hipsters” (a notion which is problematic in itself) aren’t to be taken seriously. 

Of course there is going to be a mark up – that is basically how every single cafe, restaurant and food outlet in the world makes money. God forbid they might want to make a profit so they can pay for the ongoing running costs of having a business in London. Or that they might want to live and have a reasonable lifestyle as a result of having a job. Or that they might, heaven forbid want to pay their staff a decent or living wage. 

I also find the implication by the interviewer that the cafe is charging too much a difficult one, and that the people who live in the area are too poor to eat there. The area I live has a good variety of places to eat.Some are really cheap, others are definitely the sort of place I only eat if I’ve done a lot of overtime. If I can’t afford the bill, I save up or I don’t go there. Simple. Likewise, I have also been known to go to different areas to eat out if there is another place I want to eat. I’d imagine, and it doesn’t seem too far a stretch to imagine that other people do the exact same thing, Mind-blowing I know. Tower Hamlets is indeed an area of very high child poverty, however it is also an area close to Canary Wharf, and the area has definitely started to become more affluent. Rents are still charged at London Rates as well. 

Imagine opening up your already pretty heavily criticised business and on day one having the suggestion that while you are at it, you should also be trying to solve the social problems and economic inequalities in the surrounding area too. Fair? I think I’d be pretty pissed off too. But the way the interview is conducted leaves the poor guy with nowhere to go, no way out, and the result is that neither interviewer or interviewee look good as a result. I was very pleased to see, that when the interviewee did make a response in this post on Facebook, that he’s going to be sure to bill the interviewer for the bowl of cereal he left without paying for. 

In keeping with the theme of having to solve all of the worlds problems in one go, lets talk about Russell Brand. 

Russell has been something of a chameleon in recent years. I’m going to come right out and say that I do agree with a lot of the ideas he talks about. Politicians are in my opinion a generally untrustworthy lot and are slowly but surely corrupting everything good about the UK. Whilst many people have indeed sacrificed their lives to give myself and countless others the right to vote, there seems to be increasingly little actually worth voting for, as the parties and their political ideals become ever more homogenised. When Margaret Thatcher passed away, I felt that a lot of the media glorified her, a notion that as a female and a child of the ’80’s, I really found hard to stomach. Russell Brand managed to summarise my feelings and thoughts in an eloquent manner, which didn’t go too far down the “ding-dong the witch is dead” road of scorn, which was equally distasteful to her glorification in my mind.

Russell Brand at Million Mask March
That said, I can also see why a lot of people find him an annoying twerp. As mentioned, thousands died to give us the right to vote, and the suggestion that we shouldn’t use this right after so much sacrifice can feel very offensive. It’s also true to say that he can come across as slightly sexist. I watched him recently on Newsnight, and his insistence on calling men “mate” and women “love” grated on me substantially. He also seemed more interested in making political stances than actually answering questions that were being discussed. So while I admire the fact that Russell is keen to look past what we are told and advised by politicians, and question everything, I completely get why he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 

Recently Russell took part in supporting a group of London residents who had been told that they were going to be relocated to make way for property developments. Understandably they weren’t happy to be priced out of an area where they had grown up, and so they were taking a stand, occupying empty properties, and delivering a petition. Russell has spoken about their campaign several times on his YouTube channel. Whilst lending support to the group this happened…

 Whilst I do kind of get the point that the journalist is trying to make here, I do also find the suggestion that if you are able to pay a high level of rent to live in a nice property in London (or anywhere else for that matter) that you shouldn’t give  toss about the social problems faced by others really insulting. One thing that goes in Russell’s favour here, is that he has always been the first to admit that he is lucky financially, and that if the political utopia he envisions did come into force he would lose out financially himself. Yet this is still something he stands up for. We can all look around and see that there are people who are worse off and better off than us. Social income or lack thereof doesn’t automatically mean you are happy or miserable. It also doesn’t mean you should sit back and think “I’m fine so I’m going to ignore the issues other people face” does it?

So, what does imported cereal have in common with Russell Brands rent? Both are apparently expected to be all singing, all dancing problem solvers, capable of not just being a bowl of cereal or a way of keeping a roof over the head of a celebrity, but also to solve the social and political injustices around them. I mean that is only a reasonable expectation, right? 

What do you think?

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