When I first moved to London, it struck me the ridiculously enormous amount of coffee shops and places of similar nature that filled the streets of every borough. Have you ever tried playing, for example, “Spot a Pret”? Basically, as you walk by, try to count how many “Pret a Manger” shops you see. I’m sure you will reach number five (or maybe a higher number) in few minutes. Not only coffee shops and similar ones, but even supermarkets offer prepared meals and have their own coffee machines. After a while of living in the city, we kinda naturalise it. But when we think of it thoroughly, it’s a bit shocking. I started to wonder, do we really need so many? At first I thought this was an obvious effect of capitalism, and its invasion of multiple different places with the objective of tempting us constantly to spend money at every step we take. Living in a fast paced city makes you feel like sometimes you don’t have the time or the will to make the effort it takes to prepare a meal at home, so of course, in those cases it’s just easier to step in a shop and grab something, even though you know it will be more expensive. But, whatever the case, it is a common practice among the inhabitants of the city. On the contrary, in the country where I come from, Argentina, just to take an example, it is amazingly common, specially among young people, to prepare your meals, take them with you and eat somewhere random in the streets or in the park, and going to a coffee shop it’s something you do only when meeting up with friends in a special occasion or in a extreme case, like an electric storm or something of the sort. 

So yes, effectively, I ended up thinking this London symptom was just a result of a consumerism trend in a very developed city. However, my being caught in a quite hard storm last week proved this to be not entirely true.

 I met up with a friend with the idea of catching up on things while strolling on a fine Tuesday’s morning, but, annoyingly and predictably, it started to rain soon, and it got stronger and stronger within few minutes. What to do next? Of course, lets run into a coffee shop. We did so, and we found it crowed with people who where also escaping the storm. It was really packed, and just by miracle we found a place to sit in a corner. This made me realise that, as we are living in a city in which we are caught constantly by unpredictable showers, which has an enormous population of inhabitants and receives many many tourists, it might not be such a nonsense to have more shops than the average to work as a refuge while it’s pouring down.

 While my friend and I are sitting soaking wet in the corner of the shop, a very dodgy man steps in, wearing many layers of clothes, all of them of different colours and types of fabric. He also has long fair hair and long beard, bright far-seeing eyes. Suddenly, he shouts out in a deep voice that instead of drinking coffee we should be getting ready for the end of the world, because so much rain could only indicate the latter. Giving us all a sharp final look, he storms theatrically out of the place. With complicity, we all look at each other and, of course, burst out laughing! Hasn’t he discovered we are in London yet? End of the world would be if it were sunny for more than a week! Anyway, capitalist or not, coffee shops are irrevocably necessary in this city, and may also be, who knows, a good place to spend last minutes on earth before world’s end.


"Hi!  I am Florencia, a recently graduated Arts teacher, actress and eager reader and writer. Also, a great adventurer, day-dreamer and imaginer, who loves long walks and colourful sunset skies."