Something’s brewing at work

The one thing which is synonymous with being British more than any other is our love of a brew.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:00 pm

It came as something of a shock, therefore, to read that mega-firm Unilever is considering selling its tea business, which includes PG Tips and Liptons, following a decline in sales.

It is hard to imagine anything could usurp tea’s place in our hearts, but apparently coffee has done just that.

I blame 90s super-sitcom Friends - if Central Perk had sold builders’ tea and bacon butties, then our high streets could today be dominated with businesses such as Betty’s Caff rather than Starbucks and countless Costas.

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This bombshell came hot on the heels of the brouhaha that followed the suggestion by one business leader that office sports chat should be curtailed so as not to isolate female colleagues who don’t get the Duckworth-Lewis Method or the dreaded VAR.

Her plea was met with a volley of brickbats, largely from female fans of sport, who argued her intervention did nothing for the advancement of the Sisterhood.

All that aside, it is worrying that captains of industry are going after brainless office chat, which is something the British do better than most. If you were to prohibit any talk of football in between the meeting of deadlines and the completion of spreadsheets, then everything else would be fair game too. Keeping on the subject of meaningless waffle, the third story which caught my eye was the revelation that some dog walkers go out of their way not to talk to other human beings when they take Fido to cock his leg somewhere other than their own back garden.

Saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to complete strangers is standard good manners but it is a dying practice. My late grandfather was a master at it and would often doff his hat as he spoke and he nearly always received a friendly reply, especially in later life. These days many are reluctant to pass the time of day with people they don’t know for fear of being mugged for their iPhone.

I hope my pessimism about the future of these great British traits is unfounded.