The short story “Loose Change” by Andrea Levy is set in London at the National Portrait Gallery (p. 1, l. 6). This is a place of high culture, with expensive paintings and snobbish people complaining about issues with their coffee orders: “At the next table the woman was complaining loudly that there was too much froth on her coffee.” (p. 4, ll. 19-20) Such problems are not real problems but really just first-world problems. 

This fairly luxurious setting provides a contrast to the desperate situation in which Laylor now finds herself. Her main problem right now is finding food and a place to sleep. She does not complain about her coffee - in fact, she drinks her tea with bits of crumbs and a human hair because she cannot afford to waste it.


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