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The Breakfast in Bed Café is a desperate cry for help – Ikea should stick to meatballs and sofas

Why I hate the pathetic prescribed quirkiness of Ikea's new bed-based coffee house.

I have a recurring nightmare in which my bed has been teleported into the middle of a park or a shopping centre – or pretty much anywhere public with me still in it. I dive under the duvet, but I can hear the muffled expletives of hundreds and hundreds of people, who are a bit startled that an Ikea Malm with a person on it has appeared out of nowhere. They’re freaking the hell out and so am I. A crowd is gathering around my bed. “No, no, no, no, no…” I say to myself until I wake up in the infinitely glorious privacy of my bedroom.

This is my customised version of the classic teeth falling out or public nudity anxiety dreams. I have those too, but the bed one is far more memorable.

So when I say that Ikea’s pop-up breakfast in bed café is quite literally my worst nightmare, I’m not exaggerating. The idea behind the latest in a string of East London “concept cafés” (read, buildings in which flat whites are funnelled into idiots) is that you’re served your morning coffee and croissant in a bed, in a room full of other people in beds.

Bed is the closest thing I have to a religion. And I can tell you this: publicness is the antithesis of bedness. Bed is a state of mind in which you shun the outside world. Bed is misanthropic to its core. Bed is… God? The idea of being in bed in front of strangers is sacrilege. It’s a hog roast at a Bar Mitzvah, a Dawkins in a Mosque, a cake in a skip.

Here's Ikea's ad for the café:

Bed is also where you cultivate your own stink. Who wants to snuggle down, and eat, in a shrine to someone else’s grossness? Plus, Ikea has actually managed to defeat the entire purpose of breakfast in bed by turning it into shower, get dressed, put on make-up, commute, then have breakfast in bed.

But it’s not just Ikea’s brutal campaign against the sanctity of Bed that bothers me. The company’s breakfast in bed café, which opened for three days this week in Shoreditch, is within short walking distance of two similarly twattish establishments, one serving only cereal (if you didn’t catch the internet going into a full-blown meltdown over that last year, you missed out) and the other specialising in porridge. Porridge. You know, that bland oaten mulch that’s only one step up from gruel?

Within the context of the housing crisis, these concept cafés (even pop-up ones) are starting to seem like a sick joke. Are creative agencies having a competition to see who can turn an internationally sought-after property into the stupidest thing? The Ikea café, in particular, is something straight out of the mind of PR woman pastiche, Siobhan Sharpe. Or, in reality perhaps, some bastard called Hugo – who, oh my God, just pisses ingenuity – who gets paid six figures to imbue massive corporations like Ikea with a sense of cosiness. Ikea’s bed experiment may have only lasted three days, but it seems to me like a warning of things to come.

Anyway, post-Ikea breakfast in bed café, Hugo is on a roll, so watch this space for an HSBC petting zoo ice cream parlour. Or a GlaxoSmithKline afternoon tea sauna. Concept cafés are a cry for help from a city that’s quickly losing touch with reality. There’s something desperate about the prescribed quirkiness of these places. “LOVE ME,” says the Ikea café, the Frankenstein’s monster of a company that should really stick to making meatballs and sofas.

London, I hardly think you’d mourn my departure, but I need you to know that I’m one more concept café away from moving to the Outer Hebrides and starting up a commune for bitter lesbians. 

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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Marvel has moved past the post-credits teaser, and it's all the better for it

Individual stories are suddenly taking precedence over franchise building.

The lasting contribution of 2008’s Iron Man to contemporary cinema comes not from the content of the film itself, but in its Avengers-teasing post-credits scene featuring an eyepatch-sporting Samuel L. Jackson. While post-credits scenes were not invented by Marvel, their widespread adoption in other blockbusters is a testament to Marvel using them to titillate and frustrate.

Fast forward nine years and Marvel’s direction has significantly altered. Having moved to a three-film-a-year structure ahead of next year’s climactic Infinity War, their two releases this summer have featured less explicit connective tissue, using post-credits scenes that are, in typical Marvel fashion, self-reflexive and fun – but this time with no teases for films to come.

Where previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films have trailed characters donning superhero mantles, confrontations to come, or more light-hearted team ups, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 decided to lovingly poke fun at Marvel grandmaster Stan Lee, leaving him stranded on a godforsaken space rock in the outer reaches of the stars. Spider-Man: Meanwhile Homecoming targeted filmgoers who had stayed until the end in expectation of a tease, only to receive a Captain America educational video on the virtues of “patience”.

That isn’t to say that connective tissue isn’t there. Marvel seems to be pursuing world building not through post-credits stingers, but through plot and character. In the past, teasing how awful big bad Thanos is ahead of the Avengers battling him in Infinity War would have been done through a menacing post-credits scene, as in both Avengers films to date. Instead Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 uses character as a tool to explore the world at large.

Nebula’s seething rage is, rather than just a weak excuse for an antagonist’s arc, actually grounded in character, explaining to Sean Gunn’s loveable space pirate Kraglin that Thanos would pit his daughters, her and Gamora, against each other, and replace a part of her body with machine each time she failed – and she failed every time. It’s effective. Thanos’ menace is developed, and you feel sympathy for Nebula, something Marvel has historically failed to do well for its antagnoists. Her parting promise – to kill her father – not only foreshadows the events of Infinity War, but also hints at the conclusion of a fully formed arc for her character.

In the high-school-set Spider-Man: Homecoming, the stakes quite rightly feel smaller. The inexperienced wall-crawler gets his chance to save the day not with the galaxy at risk, but with an equipment shipment owned by Iron Man alter-ego and billionaire inventor Tony Stark hanging in the balance. While such a clear metaphor for widespread change in the MCU might be a little on the nose, the set-up is effective at plaing the film at street level while also hinting at overall changes to the structure of the universe.

Stark gifting Peter a new (and oh so shiny) suit is a key set piece at the end of the film, whereas in 2015's Ant-Man’s Hope Pym inheriting her mother’s own miniaturising suit it is relegated to a teaser. Peter’s decision to turn it down not only completes Peter’s transition past seeking the approval of Stark’s unwitting father figure, but it also leaves the Avengers in an as-yet unknown state, still fragmented and incomplete after the events of 2016’s Civil War. To anticipate Spider-Man joining the Avengers proper is to anticipate the forming of the team as a whole – keeping our collective breath held until we stump up for tickets to Infinity War.

With this happy marriage of the macro and the micro, individual stories are suddenly taking precedence in the MCU, rather than being lost in the rush to signpost the foundations for the next instalment in the franchise. It’s a refreshingly filmic approach, and one which is long overdue. To suggest that Marvel is hesitant to overinflate Infinity War too early is supported by their refusal to share the footage of the film screened to audiences at the D23 and San Diego Comic Con events in recent weeks. Instead, the limelight is staying firmly on this November’s Thor: Ragnarok, and next February’s Black Panther.

Stan Lee, at the end of his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post credits scene, cries, “I’ve got so many more stories to tell!”, a hopeful counterpoint to a weary Captain America asking “How many more of these are there?” at the end of Homecoming. With Disney having planned-out new MCU releases all the way into 2020, entries in the highest-grossing franchise of all time won’t slow any time soon. We can, at least, hope that they continue their recent trend of combining writerly craft with blockbuster bombast. While the resulting lack of gratuitousness in Marvel’s storytelling might frustrate in the short term, fans would do well to bear in mind Captain America’s call for patience.