I HAVE probably mentioned once or twice that I am a bus user. I don’t try to hide it.
Understandably lots of you probably think that being a much-loved and high-profile newspaper columnist means that I am rolling in Apple watches, Twixes, and BMWs, and sleep on a bed of £50 notes.
But I actually donate most of my money to charity, specifically the TESCO – Troubled Ever-present Supermarket Company – which leaves me with insufficient disposable income to enable me to live a lifestyle similar to that of a 1970s Martini advert. I don’t think I even know what colour a £50 note is.
This means I am forced to use public transport every day and to stare out of the window at the same view, as my bus trundles over potholes and people reading their phones as they cross the street.
And so I notice things, small changes in the environment, scratches on doors, a weed growing through the cracks in the pavement, which six-incher is on offer this month in Subway. I am not laying claim to being a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, but if a crime occurred on my journey I would see it straight away.
I wouldn’t be one of those baffling people who sit in front of Crimewatch six months later and say: “Ooh, come to think of it, I DID see somebody being horribly murdered by a person in a red tracksuit top that day. In fairness, I did have a lot on my mind because I had to remember to pick up some milk on my way home.”
So I was fairly amazed to see a Costa coffee shop open up on my route. I had only noticed the day before that the previous occupant had closed down.
“That’s a shame,” I had thought, dismissing the fact that I had never actually been to that shop, like somebody who uses Amazon and then complains that there aren’t any nice little bookshops any more.
But this Costa had appeared apparently overnight, open for business, with customers and everything, seemingly impossibly. I appreciate that I cannot judge the speed of everybody’s progress when it comes to decorating by my own – and yes, it does take me so long to do a room that when I finish the skirting board I have to start it again – but this must have broken the laws of physics.
It was proof once again that Costa has changed science as we know it. We always knew that nature abhors a vacuum, but now it appears that when nature abhors a vacuum it simply slots a Costa in there. I suppose if the big bang theory suggests most of the universe was created in mere seconds, we shouldn’t be surprised that a shop can be fitted with a few tables, a condiments station, and what is effectively a massive kettle in eight hours.
In fact, I just took a short tea break while writing this and walked into my kitchen. I was planning to buy a bread bin in the next week or so with the money I have saved from getting the bus every day, and had cleared a space on the worktop.
And there, not entirely to my surprise, just under the cupboard where I keep my tea bags, was a small Costa branch, filled with miniature people.
I stared through the window, a giant blinking face in the glass, and watched somebody eat a tiny panini, and I thought: “This has to stop.”
Because at some point soon Costa is going to reach saturation point. The firm might be able to beat the laws of physics, but it can’t beat the laws of the market. There are only so many stomachs in this country for coffee to fill.
And eventually, it will meet the same fate as TESCO, closing shops because it had overextended itself, greedily gobbling up profits and estates, assuming the good times would always be there, and never realising that when you are at the top there is nowhere left to go but down.
The expansion will become an explosion, and we’ll all be showered in coffee. Which would probably be a good time to open a chain of dry-cleaners.
In the meantime I have to go back into my kitchen and try to work out how on earth I’m going to get these tiny people on and off my worktop safely. I don’t have the money to buy a little lift.