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With Mike Stevens

No one called a Hornchurch cafe racist and here’s why

(Picture: Station 164 cafe)

A story published today by the Romford Recorder has caused quite a stir on social media.

Debates are raging on Facebook and Twitter after a cafe in Hornchurch claims it has been accused of racism because of some toothpicks sporting the Union Flag.

Station 164 first posted on Facebook about this last Wednesday, saying “a couple of customers” were upset with the flags that were on the toothpicks.

The full post said:

“After two years of running our little Café we have encountered our first disproval (sic) from a ‘couple’ of customers.

“Any of our customers, past and present will know that we send all our food out with an England or Union Jack flag in it, this is not to insult or induce any feeling other than Great British Pride.

“We are a little London café, we are British, English and Londoners. We will not feel ashamed to put little flags in our food.

“We will not be stopping. We are patriotic, not ‘pathetic’ as someone called us last week. We celebrate our Country!”

 

I don’t buy that for a second.

There are many reasons that I don’t believe the cafe owner’s story. Here are just some of them.

The lack of evidence

No evidence has been offered to back up the cafe’s claim. It’s all just hearsay.

Every media organisation has different policies and the Recorder was happy to publish the story, a decision I disagree with but that’s their choice.

No one actually thinks patriotism is racist

The notion that people are offended by a flag is ridiculous.

If you go to another country, you wouldnt be surprised or upset to see its flag every so often.

It’s a tactic often used by the far right to stir up hatred towards people who don’t come from the UK. 

The cafe’s story has many inconsistencies.

The cafe’s owner Candy Merrett told the Recorder that “3-4 people every week have complained about the one-inch flags that are put in toast, and sandwiches”, with the issue getting worse since the World Cup ended.

Shocking, right?

But that contradicts its own Facebook post (since deleted) which said an incident a week ago was “our first disproval (sic).”

And in a comment on the post the cafe was asked how many complaints were raised, to which it replied “We get a couple of complaints a month on average.”

How can you have any faith in such an inconsistent story.

Since when do tourists flock to Hornchurch?

Again speaking to the Romford Recorder, Candy said: “We have some tourists that love it. They take the flags home with them as a momento (sic).”

No.

You don’t get tourists in Hornchurch. It’s a lovely town, don’t get me wrong, but no one is booking a holiday here.

I mean, come on! Did that quote not immediately arouse suspicion when you read it?

Yes, people do visit the area sometimes but it’s pretty far-fetched to believe that someone will take a toothpick as a memento.

Everything I’ve said so far is just opinion. Perhaps you would like something more concrete.

Last week, Time 107.5 was told that the cafe was trying to get this story in the media and that, by the cafe’s own admission, it was false.

We didn’t entertain the rumour because we didn’t expect anyone to publish a story without any supporting evidence.

How wrong we were.

The story has since appeared in the Metro and the Mirror as well.

I tried to contact the cafe to ask them if they had made the whole thing up but there was no answer to my phone call.

So I then sent a message to its Facebook page.

The message was read instantly and ignored. 

But why would the cafe make something like this up?

Publicity.

Today I’ve seen so many comments from people supporting the cafe, pledging to visit and become a customer.

The entire claim was a publicity stunt and it’s clearly done very well for them.

But it is absolutely, categorically not true.

And I’m sorry to anyone who fell for it.

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