By Becky Brice
Recently me and Sara have been swapping the studio for Wetherspoons. The first time we went it was just to work in a different environment, see if we could get the creative juices flowing. And being fairly short of cash, Wetherspoons was the obvious choice.
As soon as we entered, the average age plummeted. We selected a booth that looked like a good spot, ordered a tea and coffee and started to talk through our work. I’m a natural people watcher. I’d rather do that than talk, which can be an issue when you’re working with someone and they aren’t telepathic. But I can resist if the people around me are lack lustre. No such luck here. Everyone was fascinating to watch.
A couple of characters were sat a table away putting the world to rights, f’ing and blinding along the way. They started on gentrification, and being Brixton, this is a hot topic. They moved onto the next generation. ‘Millennials they call them. They’ve got a different set of priorities to us.’ Students were discussed, in less than favourable terms. So far they seemed not to have noticed us ear wigging their conversation.
At some point we needed computer assistance so got our laptops out. This is when they clocked us. ‘Those computers with the apples. Their dads worked hard just so they can get them. They’re students. Students, they always sit all day and don’t buy anything’. Cut to me holding up my mug for all to see.
I’m judged a lot as I go about my daily business. I look young so that’s always a point of judgement. I don’t drink much, judgements are made. It’s annoying but I’m used to it.
I’ve been back and forth on how I feel about being reprimanded by a group of old men drinking pints at 10:30 in the morning. My instant reaction is, of course, how dare you. You have no idea what we’re like or how we manage to afford things.
Then I look around and see that every table is taken by men, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups, always with a pint in front of them. I instantly judge them and their lifestyles. ‘Drunks’, ‘down and outs’, people I wouldn’t have anything in common with.
And there I go, doing the exact thing I get frustrated by. I wonder what they do to allow them to sit and drink the mornings away. Maybe they work night shifts and this is their evening. Maybe it’s an excuse to get out the house. Maybe they like to surround themselves with people who have the same mindset as them. The way they judged us for being the stereotypical millennials, and how I’m judged for looking a certain way, it’s all the same and I’m just as guilty.
Being in their company puts the course in a different light. I can’t be 100% but I’m pretty sure no one’s done a campaign aimed at those people sitting in Wetherspoons. They couldn’t care less about strap lines, tag lines or key lines. They worry that shops are closing, certain values and social norms are disappearing. They worry about being served a pint in a plastic cup. They worry that everything’s getting more expensive with no difference in the product. And they’re not alone. We’re always told that people hate advertising and it’s our job to make work that people choose to watch.
I don’t have a nice neat ending. Just that those men have been sitting at the back of my mind for 2 weeks now. They are real people, with real problems that I really want to talk to.