I pondered the future of Breakfast Club. What started as a nice, sedate catch-up had evolved into a rather dramatic event in the last few weeks.
There was only one thing for it, a Madonna T shirt. Madonna ate drama and controversy for breakfast and so would I.
The café was sparsely populated when I arrived. Armando was behind his trusty counter.
‘Hi Armando. How are you? No sign of Lil yet?’
‘No sign of anyone yet. Is Crouch End gone away?’ Armando asked.
‘No idea. We must continue our conversation about you. We rarely get a chance to catch up… How are things? Are you managing to get out and meet new people?’
Our discourse was interrupted as the doors flung open and there stood Lil, arm in arm with Bill. They looked like the King and Queen of Crouch End preparing to greet their subjects. Lil was wearing a lighter overcoat, her hair rinsed bright pink with matching pink lipstick. She had a small bunch of dandelions in her hand. Bill stood proudly at her side and wore a looser waistcoat – thank goodness.
‘Morning Lil, morning Bill,’ I said trying not to allow my smile to dissolve into laughter.
‘Good morning Mr Boulevardier.’ Lil almost sang her response.
They approached the table and Lil waited for Bill to pull the seat out for her. I wanted to ask where her shopping trolley was, or why she was clutching dandelions as if they were pearls but thought better of it.
‘I’m just nipping to the gents to shake hands with the colonel,’ said Bill and disappeared to the back of the café.
I went to speak and as I drew breath Lil put a finger up to silence me and said ‘I don’t want any more of your powder room talk Wayne. We had enough of that several weeks ago.’
‘I wasn’t going to mention that or Bill’s reference to his proposed toilet activity actually,’ I said with a wink and continued ‘I wondered what’s going on? Last week you could barely contain your disdain for Bill hanging around and now you seem to be courting it, and in fact courting him.’ I took a long slow sip of tea and waited for a response.
‘Wait,’ said Armando ‘I not miss a word of this.’
‘Boys, what can I say?’ Lil pouted. She was playing with us.
‘Please go on, before he’s back,’ said Armando using an efficient and directive tone.
‘He’ll be a while. He always is. It’s odd. I was so irritated with Bill and his unwanted attentions and then I saw last week how much it irked Mavis. I went to Age Club with Bill and if I’m honest it felt nice walking in with someone. Of course Mavis and ‘her girls’ were whispering in the corner, but they always are. But this time I didn’t care. Actually I never care but it felt nice to have someone by my side.’
‘That is lovely Lil, I’m glad you’re having a nice time with Bill. I hope his intentions are honourable,’ I said.
‘I bloody hope they’re not,’ Lil cackled, ‘we can’t afford to waste time when you get to our age. In fact he has been rather attentive. In the last week he’s brought me tea twice, chocolates once, and flowers today – if you can call dandelions flowers as a gift. But as I always say it’s the thought that counts.’
Bill re-joined us just as the breakfasts were arriving.
‘You do a bloody good spread here Armando old chap,’ said Bill as his pupils dilated at the oil running across his fried egg.
‘Thank you yes, but please remember pensioner day is Monday. This must be secret for Thursday.’
‘Yes, yes, yes,’ fussed Lil.
I’d ordered buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and they were delicious. I wish I could eat them every day but then Madonna wouldn’t be happy as she’d stretch further across my chest and stomach.
‘What do you think of Bill’s new waistcoat?’ asked Lil.
‘Very smart,’ I responded.
‘Yes, the other was rather tight and I thought it might pop open and injure someone at any given moment,’ said Lil.
I’d had the same thought but didn’t verbalise our synchronicity.
‘I’m thinking that Bill might need a diet as he can’t go on expanding – for health reasons,’ added Lil.
Bill looked alarmed and started shovelling the bacon into his mouth quicker and chewed in an anxious manner.
‘Lil my dear, I’m not going to diet when I’m 76. I’d rather eat what I want in my senior years,’ said Bill.
‘Toyboy,’ I said.
Lil tutted. Bill sniggered and sprayed some sausage across his plate.
‘Anyway, when are we going to meet your partner Boulevardier?’ asked Lil.
‘Not sure, he works on a Thursday. Would you like to meet him?’ I said.
‘Of course, I think it’s lovely that you have him. What does he do?’
Bill started coughing. He seemed to have compressed too much toast in his mouth at one time. He was bright red and sweating. ‘Will you slow down Bill. Your breakfast ain’t going anywhere,’ said Lil.
‘Well this chatter is rather loud.’ Bill shuffled in his seat uncomfortably and I realised that he wasn’t at ease with my talking openly about my boyfriend. This wasn’t a good time to upset the equilibrium as we were having a pleasant Breakfast Club and I didn’t answer Lil’s question. I wasn’t going to not talk about Michael, but just not right now.
‘Armando, how about you? You got a boyfriend at the moment then?’ asked Lil either missing or ignoring Bill’s discomfort. I suspect the latter.
Armando got up from the table and brushed down his apron. ‘I must be getting on as I’m having a busy day and short of staff.’
‘Is there anyone straight in this café apart from me?’ asked Bill.
‘Who cares Bill, and please wipe that egg yolk from the side of your mouth. You’re looking and behaving most uncouth,’ said Lil.
I decided it was time for a fresh pot of tea and signalled to Anabel, the waitress.
So Lil was courting – interesting. I hoped this wouldn’t mean an end to our lovely weekly group meetings.