I live in Southgate, a fairly sleepy suburb of North London. It’s one of those areas of London that prides itself on having a village atmosphere; an amalgamation of restaurants and coffee shops, small independent shops existing in harmony next to big multinationals. So when I came to distributing my promotional posters asking people to support a local author I packed a healthy bundle ready to cover the notice boards of Southgate with my glossy posters.
However as I went around the coffee shops searching for community notice boards I found nothing. Zilch. Nada. The community spirit in the London village is seemingly non existent. Feeling a little disheartened I went to my ‘regular’ coffee shop, the place that I go most days either to set up a little office away from home, or to buy an edifying post-rough-night coffee, or as an after school treat with my five year old (because he is treated like royalty in there). Despondent at my lack of success elsewhere I console myself by replacing my old shabby (pre-Aimee Creative) poster with a new one and leaving some flyers on the counter. The manager, Colin, picks up a flyer, asks what I’ve been up to, says he’ll buy my book. My order is known without me giving it. This coffee shop is like a home from home, it’s like ‘Cheers’, where everybody knows your name. This coffee shop does do community, I’ve made friends, contacts here but this particular coffee shop has come under fire for being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a Harris + Hoole.
For those of you who don’t know, Harris + Hoole are a new chain popping up over London, the brainchild of the Tolley siblings who had previously run independent coffee shops in London and Brighton who wanted to bring great coffee to the masses. To do this they sought funding from Tesco, the Beelzebub of the retail world and have faced criticism in the press about Tesco holding a non controlling share of their company, about ‘pretending’ to be independent and ‘playing’ at being community spirited. Rhubarb to that, I say. Harris + Hoole Southgate is my office, my sanctuary; the staff show interest in me, in my work. They support me, they make me amazing coffee, they wake me up when I’m exhausted, they change the radio station when the wittering of Nick Grimshaw is interfering with the dialogue I’m writing. I’m not a fan of Tesco by any stretch of the imagination but community spirit is rare and isn’t something that can be put on and is something that is seemingly dead elsewhere in my London village. So I’ll stand and be counted, thank you Harris + Hoole, long may you continue to be my office and the only local bearer of my promotional poster.
(Tiger Tiger is available now in the Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_error)