Next Tuesday what with the weather being lousy and the nights drawing in and the rent being due and the electricity bill hitting the floor and going through the roof at the same time and feeling in need of a mid-morning pick me up to shore up my morale, I’m going to put on my rain gear head into town walk into Starbucks and smile at the barista.
She’ll smile back because it’s good to smile and I’ll order a grande mocha with an extra shot a whirl of whipped cream chocolate sprinkles on top and to get that sugar hit up and running pronto I’ll have a slab of Chocolate Crunch™ and no, I won’t be taking it away.
When she sets it on the counter I’ll give her everything I have in my pockets. Sixteen pence in shrapnel, three washers, one old bus ticket, and the business card some psychic medium keeps posting through my door promising an end to all my worldly ills. How a man of such prodigious talents wasn’t stopped dead in his tracks the instant he smashed into the I don’t think so, sunshine wall of scepticism just inside the front gate, I’ll never know, but that’s another story for another day.
Back in Starbucks the barista looks puzzled. She counts up the coins, hands me back the washers and the bus ticket, slips the business card into the pocket of her jeans, smiles, and tells me I still owe her £5.74.
I smile back because no-one likes an angry poet and I take a deep breath and I tell her that as Starbucks has paid no corporation tax on UK profits for the past three years I reckon they owe me a couple of hospitals an old people’s home and an upgrade of our creaking transport system.
The barista goes to get the manager. I take a big slurp of mocha and a huge bite of Chocolate Crunch™ to keep ahead of the game, and when he arrives and asks what’s going on, and knowing no-one likes an angry poet, I give him a big chocolatey grin and explain about the tax. Then, before he can whip it away, I have another gulp of mocha grab the rest of the Chocolate Crunch™ and stuff it in my gob.
He threatens to call the police.
There’s a long pause. Partly because my mouth’s so full of chocolate I can barely speak, but mainly because my response when it comes is going to be so densely packed with fury and expletives we can’t let it loose till well after the watershed accompanied by some kind of warning because all this smiling is hard work and yes, no-one likes an angry poet but I’m a poet who loves words loves people and believes some things are worth getting angry about and if you don’t see the difference between those two then I probably lost you soon after I put my rain gear on back at the start.
And this is my poem. And in my poem the customers who’ve been in here with me chatting, reading, sheltering from the rain, they stand as one. The baristas, tired of working on their feet all day throw their aprons to the floor seize the takings and march out of the door and we make our way from branch to branch all through town filling the streets emptying the tills into a large sack which we deliver to the nurses up at A&E.
We hand out lattes to bus drivers, fire espressos and carrot cake into the mouths of homeless people, give paninis to the unemployed. Coffee mugs in hand, chocolate smeared across our faces, fired up by our belief we’re all in this together and that an injury to one is an injury to all we storm Vodafone HQ and Amazon UK for a quiet chat about the money they owe us, and as the winter sun breaks through the clouds and the windows of the City are a seamless wall of gold, I look around, one poet in a sea of millions