Kit Caless is a man who likes carpets. Wetherspoons carpets. He's begun a website, obviously titled Wetherspoons Carpets, to document the floor coverings in J.D. Wetherspoons establishments up and down the country. We got in touch to find out the thinking behind this madman's quest.
What made you want to start documenting Wetherspoons carpets?
I was sitting in the Westgate Spoons in Canterbury earlier this year, and halfway through my £2.30 pint of Tuborg I finished the book I was reading, The Way Inn by Will Wiles. It's about a mid-range hotel chain and its strange aesthetics. In the novel, the protagonists finds out that the corporate art that hangs in frames outside the lifts in every hotel is not actually unique as it appears, but links up with all the other Way Inn hotels' art to form one massive piece. I stared at the sticky Spoons carpet, the echoes of last night's paraletic activity reverberating in its garishness and thought – I've never seen a Spoons carpet that looks the same as another Spoons carpet. So I took a photo and decided to check it off against my local Spoons in Mare Street, Hackney later that evening. Sure enough, they were markedly different. After that... it became a bit of an obsession.
Do you have any theories about why they're all different?
Currently I'm trying to work out if they are. That's why I started the blog, I want people to send me pictures of their local Spoons carpet (via Twitter @kitcaless) so I can check off the 913 pub carpets against one another. I could probably ask someone at Spoons PR but then we would all miss out on a few cheap drinks and a couple of cheap laughs. Though I doubt even Spoons has a pictoral record of its beer soaked, puke stained, carpets of a million stories.
Do you have a particular favourite Wetherspoons carpet?
It's a tossup between Gatwick airport and The Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington, London. The Rochester Castle is the longest-running, still-open Spoons. It's at the front line in the fight against the pretentiousness of Stoke Newington's chattering classes. It's the only boozer in the area that has a genuine mix of people, all classes, all races, all genders. I would love to get that carpet's DNA tested.
The Gatwick Spoons is a phenomenon. It's all of British life in one space. I was there in April for a stag do, flying to Hamburg – it was 6:30am and the place was rammed. It was wall to wall stag and hen groups properly getting on it before easyJet flights to places like Prague, Barcelona, Krakow. I've never seen a finer cross section of the UK. Given this unique situation Gatwick Spoons finds itself in, the carpet is disgusting. Its pink shades could be from vomited Aftershock, its black swirls could just be the whirlpool of oncoming embarrasment. Or, they probably just didn't give a shit because really, at 6:30am in Gatwick, you're not looking at the carpet are you?
You've only just started this project – where do you see it heading?
I want to get people involved with the project as much as possible. When you're drinking in a Spoons, just take a picture of the carpet and send it to me. Have a look at the aesthetics, and ask yourself – If this wasn't a Spoons, would I be commenting on how comfortable the bar stools are? Would I notice that the Elephant and Castle Spoons bar carpet is different to the carpet in the corridor that leads to the toilets? We spend a lot of our time staring into the bottom of the glass. I think we should be staring at the carpets instead. Ultimately, I want 913 photos. I want to collect them all. I won't be able to drink in all those pubs, but the people of the UK can get pissed by themselves and help me out instead.
If Tim Martin, Wetherspoons chairman, offered you free Curry Club for life in exchange for quitting the project, would you do it?
Nah, not for Curry Club. Though I would consider it for a mixed grill every Saturday morning until I have a heart attack.