Friday, 3 April 2009

stupid british library

I almost wrote evil British Library, but that would be wrong. And really, I don't suppose the British library will turn out to be as stupid as I think they are. It turns out that in almost all things I am biased and wrong or the world is (which is what I really think).

Anyway, the BL has changed its internal caterer (restaurant, two cafes) from Pru Leith to Peyton & Byrne. In case you don't go to the BL much, one of the main rants I heard when it opened, and periodically since, though I have the feeling that things slightly improved, was that the food was too expensive (I never eat there, so I'm not certain). We, a tiny selection of the readers, decided this was because one organisation had won the entire catering concession. We, far from being the socialist intellectuals you are imagining, were well in favour of some competition.

Anyway, Leiths (+ Costa, with whom they partnered up) were dear. The ridiculous thing about this is that the BL is populated by students, writers and academics, all of whom, as a rule, are poor. HOWEVER, it is also populated by a management class, which is quite big, and which is the class making the decisions about who gets to win the catering franchise, and which would very much like to eat nice food and excellent cakes, and especially if they are presented in a comfortingly olde fashioned and heritagey way. Hence, now, Peyton & Byrne.

Who have, instantly, put prices up by about 40p per coffee. Because I am an important player in the international commodity markets, I happen to know that tea and coffee wholesale prices are going up (buy tea, coffee and wood, as I have been saying for years). But all the same, it doesn't look good. I mean, I am as middle class as the next person, but I think that asking Britain's most chi chi coffeeseller/bakery to sell coffee to a bunch of students and writers is naughty.

Also, I hear but didn't notice, P&B's first act was to block off the plugs in the cafe so people couldn't sit and work on laptops. Good business, maybe, but libraries in general, and the BL in particular (in general) are civilised achievements. Naked profit hunger in this context is vulgar, and I know that P & B would hate the word but I pick it because it's the right one, not because it is the one most designed to irritate them (I don't think they read this blog anyway). The managers who chose them should be ashamed of themselves, but I imagine they will mainly be pleased that it's easier to get a seat these days and take the increasingly cake-filled weight off their weedy legs.

Viva la revolucion, etc.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Madness. With coffee prices like that, you may as well join the London Library and bring a thermos.

My word verification word: "finger".