From bar to barrista

The Whitbread prize - worth £50,000 to the winner - is moving. Previously the literary award was associated with the Whitbread conglomorate, whose most obvious public face has been their pub and brewery business. Now Costa Coffee, a part of the Whitbread empire, will be taking over the sponsorship deal.

I can't help feeling a little sad about this. Coffee, cake and books have an obvious association, and one I'm happy to revel in whenever possible, but the old literary motifs of smoky pubs, roaring drunks and scintillating conversation are fading fast. These days we think of JK Rowling in the cafe, not Dylan Thomas in the pub.

I grew up in a pub and I have a nostalgia for the conceit that claimed writers somehow produced their best ideas at the end of an evening's debauch and scribbled them on the nearest beer mat which they shoved in their pocket as the landlord manhandled them out the door.