Street artist Banksy yesterday unveiled his temporary chain of satirical coffee shops, called Mardybucks.
Our reporter, Barton Mashir, went along to the grand opening in Camden. Here, he describes the experience:
“As soon as you walk up to the front entrance you know you’re in for something different. The windows are greasy, and the sign is only half installed. It is almost as if they didn’t have time to finish getting the shop ready. Is it a statement on capitalism’s endless pursuit of an unattainable financial endpoint? No.
“Once inside, you are greeted by staff dressed as riot policemen, who take your order then shove you to your table. Once at your table you realise that the trademark Banksy rats are skittering around the floor, real ones not painted ones. There are some half-arsed aphorisms written on the walls. Small children roam around, some of them wearing old fashioned diving helmets with canaries inside. It is instinctive to read all this as representative of poverty in our society, but the woman next to me informs me that the children are Banksy’s and that the rats are, well, rats.
“Eventually, my drink arrives. It is the new Banksy Grumpkin Spiced Latte. Sitting on the top is a replica of a boat of refugees. The policeman that brings it over waits until I’m about to pick it up, then knocks it over, sending the boat over the edge of the table. ‘Blame the capitalist coffee industry,’ he grunts, before leaving.
“I drink what remains in my glass. It tastes revolting. I glance toward the coffee machine, and see a man crouched on the floor behind it, crying. I figure it is probably Banksy. I notice that he is spraypainting an image of a bomb onto his own face.
“My time here is at an end, so I get up to leave. The man behind the counter notices me and stands up, desperation on his half-painted face, shouting: ‘It’s ironic, don’t you see? It’s all ironic!’ I back away and run from the shop.
“All in all, I wouldn’t recomment Mardybucks. Although the coffee and walnut cake was actually pretty good.”
Mardybucks is due to close down in two weeks due to tax evasion.