‘Bingo!’ I announced dramatically as I opened the café door.
‘For goodness sake, bloody come and sit down. Bingo was last week.’
‘How are you Lil?’
‘Well apparently Mavis Bellamy has been telling everyone that I was rude to her at the bingo.’
‘which you were rather…’
‘Armando please remove the Boulevardier from the café if he’s going to side with that la-di-da interfering nosey cow.’
Armando darted over from the counter to settle this subtle disturbance. I shouldn’t have interrupted and said something so inflammatory but I’d woken in rather a bad mood with a headache.
‘Sorry Lil and of course this was after she accused you of cheating. I’m tired after a long week of working in Swindon,’ I said.
‘Hmmmmm,’ replied Lil.
‘I’ll get the Assam,’ said Armando ‘as peace offering.’
I nipped to the loo and as usual found the lavatory seat down but the lid open which is one of my pet hates.
‘I do hate it when the loo seat lid isn’t lowered after use,’ I said as I returned to the table.
Lil was pouring the tea ‘And I hate it when men leave the seat up.’
‘Come on Lil, that’s the argument always asserted by women but I find it a bit hypocritical as they rarely put the loo seat lid down.’
‘Why should they?’ Lil argued firmly.
‘Well due to large quantities of bacteria and viruses in toilets after use, it’s polite to close the lid while flushing in my mind. I believe the effect of the flush can cause germs to spread across a bathroom for hours.’
‘Is that true?’ said Lil.
Armando arrived with Lil’s full breakfast and my porridge with blueberries. The café was rather busy and he didn’t stop to sit with us.
‘Yes, and just imagine if the germs reach your toothbrush,’ I added.
‘I’ve bloody had enough of this. You’re not acting much like a Boulevardier. More like a grumpy sod, and I’m certainly not having toilet talk over breakfast,’ said Lil.
Lil and I looked at each other and smiled in a friendly manner. We were both a little tetchy. No wonder Armando was busying himself in the café.
‘The spread was good last Thursday Lil.’
‘Yes us oldies know how to put on a buffet.’ I resisted the urge to ask Lil what part she had played in the preparation.
‘When I ate the cheese sandwich and drank the coffee it triggered a wonderful old memory. I’ve been thinking about it all week,’ I said.
‘What’s that then?’
Armando joined us with an Americano and muffin.
‘When I was young we always used to go on holiday to the same chalet in a small village called Winterton in Norfolk. Well, until we upgraded to the Isle of Wight but that wasn’t until I was 13.’
Lil sliced a mushroom and dipped it in her egg.
‘Anyway, we had to set off early and I always looked forward to the stop in Thetford Forest. I could taste the combination of cheese roll and coffee as soon as the journey started. I reminded Mum of this in the week and she said we didn’t regularly stop at Thetford, but I’m sure we did. Anyway, Mum used to bring a thermos of milky coffee which I would drink. I wasn’t always allowed coffee but on holiday I was. I would drink the coffee with a Clingfilm wrapped cheese roll. It was like a ceremony as Mum opened the glove compartment in our Austin Cambridge and placed paper cups on the purposed indentations and poured.’
Lil put down her cutlery and looked up.
‘We didn’t have much luck with our Cambridge.’
‘You had one too?’ I asked.
‘What is this Cambridge?’ Armando interjected.
‘What would now be called a classic car, and yes we had one. It was Ray’s pride and joy. He loved his cars. We hadn’t had it for long and went out for a spin on a Sunday afternoon when this idiot crashed into the passenger side of the car,’ Lil said.
‘Oh no. Were you injured?’ I asked.
‘The impact was on my side and the door crushed right into me, and thank goodness the Cambridge was sturdy otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here.’
‘Lil, please don’t say that,’ said Armando.
‘It’s true. The unborn life in my tummy didn’t fare so well…’ Lil paused and took a deep breath.
Armando moved his hands across the table and put them on Lil’s. She had water in her eyes.
‘The only answer anyone had in those days was to get pregnant again, but I didn’t or couldn’t or who knows. I wanted to grieve the loss of my child… And that reminds me of my auntie Vi. She was my rock. I wish she were still alive.’
I didn’t know what to say.
‘Raymond never forgave himself. He had suggested the drive but wasn’t responsible for that fool who lost control of his vehicle.’
Memories evoke memories and all from a cheese sandwich and a cup of instant coffee at a charity bingo event.
Lil looked sad.
Armando called for a fresh pot of Assam.