Once in a while, despite my attempted discipline of healthy eating and my pretensions to fine dining, I take myself to one of the glories of British cuisine: the caff. And, once in a while, despite my generally curmudgeonly view on life in this distressing suburb of Hell, I see a small vignette that gives me heart.
Today, I was in a particularly good caff; it is is clean, bright, always full. The service is brisk and pleasant and the wide range of breakfasts offered is pleasingly displayed in nice big colour picture. Neither the menus nor the sauce bottles are sticky. And the lavatories (I am fast becoming the Theodore Dalrymple of lavatories…) are immaculate.
Opposite me is a very old lady. A very, very old lady, in her seat by the window, her walking frame next to her. Her hair is lovely and her eyes are bright. She is having the same as me – steak pie, roast potatoes and veg and a cup of tea. The portions are gigantic, by the way, as usual. The gravy comes on the side in a very large cup. The lady eats her dinner. I eat mine. When she has finished, she pays. The waitress, from Turkey, brings her change, presses her hand, makes sure she has her money safe, asks her if she needs help getting out of the door. The lady declines and leaves. Bye, Doris, says the waitress, see you soon – with the sort of affection that is kindness without charity. Outside the afternoon is grey rainy and winter is coming. I am uplifted and I am full of pie.
Steak pie image rights here
Desperate Dan image rights here.