Sometimes little things can be the most heartwarming.
Personally I am a big fan of old school gentlemanly conduct – holding doors open for ladies/the elderly, helping mothers with their prams etc. It helps offset the fact that on a daily basis I swear like a trooper with Tourette’s (which must be a bloody awful affliction incidentally).
I experienced one of these heartwarming moments the other day when I visited Tart, a cafe and foodstore on the Gloucester Road in Bristol. Jane and I popped in one Sunday morning for breakfast – it does decent locally sourced fry-ups, excellent pancakes with bacon and truly superb cheese scones – and it was heaving.
This is a good sign on its own but made all the better because Tart has squatters next door.
You see, Costa Coffee applied for planning permission to open one of their ubiquitous, bland, coffee shops of despair slap-bang next door to Tart. And when councillors quite rightly refused them planning permission they opened it anyway and said they would appeal against the decision. Even Bristol Civic Society criticised their actions.
It’s a classic strong-arm attempt by high-street bullies. When the appeal comes before the planning inspector they want him/her to think “Well, it is open now, may as well let them stay”. Which would be bad.
But there is a happy ending to this first battle (the war still rages). While Tart does a roaring trade, Costa, to my eye, is struggling with only a handful of people in every time I walk past.
And to warm the cockles of even the most seasoned of hacks, when I paid the breakfast bill in Tart and said how great it was that they were busy and Costa empty, the waitress replied: “Yes, we’ve actually been doing better business since it opened.”