By day, the Robin Hood restaurant, which sits on a side street near the centre of Madrid, is a typical Spanish bar: coffee and croquetas, a fruit machine, cigarette machine, and a leg of ham dozing under a tea towel on the counter.
But at night, it transforms itself into a pioneering place where homeless people such as Gutiérrez, 40, from Extremadura, can dine, free of charge, at tables set with flowers, metal cutlery and proper glasses.
Millfield has been doing this for decades of course. But I do like this. It’s called “Robin Hood”:
The priest acknowledges that there may be something a little provocative in naming the restaurant after a figure who redistributed wealth at the tip of an arrow and the point of a sword. But the idea is less to rob the rich than to encourage them to share their good fortune.
“The name is just to spice it up a bit and to get people to notice. We could have called it ‘The Brothel’ and I’m sure that would have got people’s attention, too.”
Quite so. And I have absolutely no doubt at all that the publicity will lead to more daytime patrons, some of whom will leave a little extra to aid in paying for the evenings. ‘Coz, you know, most people are, most of the time, pretty good.
It’s going to run into the usual problems of anything free at the point of use but absolutely nothing in this life is going to be perfect.