24 November, 2005

Brewing up

I don't drink coffee, so every time I find myself in a place like Starbucks (not very often, to be honest) I'm always at a loss at what to order. I say that, but what I really mean is at a loss at how to order. I know what I want: a cup of tea. What I don't know is how to get the cup of tea I want (black, quite weak).

There never seems to be the option to simply select A Cup Of Tea. It has to be of a particular blend, or particular leaf, or particular size. But how do I know which one I'll like? How do I know which is the closest to A Cup Of Tea? Why should I feel like I need to know the names of the world's tealeaves before offering one of these places my custom?

In the end I usually give in and order a hot chocolate. The belief, seemingly hardwired into the national political psyche, that all that people want in this country is endless choice leaves me utterly bemused. It's substituting the reassurance you feel in knowing what you want and how to get it with the uncertainty of having to commit to a process that's based more on competition than convenience.

When cold ideology comes between you and a hot drink, something's gone wrong. I'd like to see a Lyon's Tea Shop back in every high street. And sometimes I'd just like to have the choice to have no choice.


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