My favourite cafe in Crouch End, the cafe where I wrote most of my novel On the Holloway Road, has just put up a notice saying it has fallen victim to the credit crunch and closed down. It was a shock to me. The place was perfect for writing. It had friendly staff, American-diner-style bottomless coffee, good food, big windows to stare out of, convenient plugs for a laptop, and Fawlty Towers tapes playing in the bathrooms. And it was just around the corner.
Also, on reflection, a reason I liked it was that it wasn’t too crowded during the day – perhaps not a good sign. Anyway, I will miss the place.
The betting shop next door seems to have closed too, along with the old furniture shop Myers – and of course our local Woolworth’s has closed, along with all the other branches. The place just up the road selling glass and picture frames has halved in size. Also, worryingly for me, shops that closed a year or even two years ago are still empty. But according to the council, there is nothing to worry about:
Councillor Kaushika Amin, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said last week there was “no discernable increase in the closure of shops” and vowed to monitor progress.
Later on in the same local newspaper article, Councillor Amin says there is nothing much the government can do anyway. Of course not. The free market must run its course. Small businesses must be allowed to fail, towns to lose their character, people to lose their jobs. Government money must be reserved only for truly deserving recipients, like investment bankers.
Anyway, of all the businesses in Crouch End that could have gone bust, I’m sorry it had to be Pick More Daisies. It was a good place. I hope the staff find jobs elsewhere, and that the owner didn’t lose too much. Here, as a kind of epitaph, is the Pick More Daisies philosophy that used to be up on the wall in a big mural: