Grumpy old man or simple observation?

This is an article that was published in its entirety in the ‘Get Reading’ newspaper in January 2013. We put in on Facebook and, rather unexpectedly, it went viral, peaking at 30,000 views in just a week or so. It was a bit of fun, so we thought we’d repost it here.

I feel I must write in response to your silver surfer article in the Get Reading publication on January 4th entitled ‘why does everything cost so much in the town centre?’

I actually write from two perspectives, as a slightly grumpy ‘old’ man (less of the ‘old’ please, I’m in my early forties) but also as a business owner of a premises  regularly frequented by local silver surfers. Indeed, it was some of these silver surfers who drew my attention to the article and encouraged me to respond.

First, let me reassure those who are sympathetic to the article that it is not just silver surfers who are perplexed by the seemingly endless price rises. In such austere times I find it incredible that high end, non tax paying (!) coffee shops are always full. £2.75 a coffee? No thanks, mate. I can get a pint for that. Oh wait, I can’t anymore. I can’t even get a sandwich for that these days. You’re looking at four quid and up for some namby pamby designer effort, with calorie controlled fat free butter, low in salt, sugar and starch, using humanely caught crayfish freshly flown in from the other side of the world with organic rocket served in fair trade hippie rye bread.  Yeah, well I want cheese and pickle. And I want it at a reasonable price.

It still doesn’t seem so bad when you’re on your own, but if there’s two of you ordering a light snack and a coffee and it comes to £16, I can’t help thinking I’m going to get table service and silver cutlery. As much as I know it’s the way of the world though, and as much as my other half rolls her eyes and tuts every time we order something because she has to listen to me moan about it (and it is every time), I can’t help finding it re-assuring knowing that I’m not the only one.

But I’m also a man of my convictions as a provider of these services in the town centre, through my thirteen year old establishment, Quantum Web Café, based in Smelly Alley. Although we provide a technical service, we also have a very traditional style café often used by silver surfers relaxing at one of the tables or sometimes even using one of the computers. Why? Because we serve good coffee at £1.40 for a small and £1.70 for a large as well as a range of simple, recognisable lunches with sensible prices. We’ve been runners up for the last two years in the Reading Retail Awards ‘My Favourite Coffee Shop’ so we must be getting it mostly right!

Oh, and if you have a Simply Bus pass, you can get your entire lunch for £3.50 through MoLo. That’s pretty good by anybody’s standard. Even I’d pay that without moaning!

Jason Deane

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