Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a Halloween party – last year I was dressed as a gothic vampire with slicked-back hair drinking blood-coloured cocktails, with Michael dressed as a ghost. However, the persistent popping of bangers outside in the streets and the relentless flow of premature Trick-or-treaters is wearisome. My living space is at the back of the apartment and I can therefore appear not at home, which is a saving grace. Goodness only knows what it’s like for our senior residents, but as it was Thursday I’m sure I was about to hear.
I dressed very anti-Halloween in a Madonna T shirt, and after adding a light jacket, I made my way to the café.
Lil was already sitting at our table with Gisela. Their teacups were already three-quarters empty and I therefore surmised they’d been in residence for a while.
‘Trick or treat?’ I asked as I greeted them. Lil backed away from my affection.
‘Don’t you fu-…’
‘I mean don’t start all that bloody nonsense Wayne. I’ve had enough of it already,’ said Lil after making us blush at her first stunted repost, containing additional colourful language I hadn’t heard from her before.
‘The noise of the banging, and into the night. Don’t the parents make the children come into the home at a reasonable hour?’ asked Gisela.
I poured myself a cup of stewed tea, and nodded to Armando behind the counter.
‘Standards have slipped. In my day you’ve have got a clip around the ear for such behaviour, and not just from your family. Most of the community had licence to do so. And respect for your elders reigned,’ said Lil.
Gisela tutted and added, ‘same in Deutschland.’
‘Marty says that at our age we’re lucky to get any banging,’ said Lil and started cackling.
‘Excuse me,’ said Gisela as she got up and moved towards the ladies.
‘Everything OK with Gisela?’ asked Armando as he joined us armed with a fresh pot of Assam.
‘She’s not happy that Marty has stayed over. She said it’s not very ladylike.’ Lil pursed her lips. I was shocked.
‘I had no idea your relationship had progressed,’ I said trying to keep a judgemental tone from my words.
‘Don’t you start too Wayne,’ said Lil.
‘What about Bill?’ I asked. Armando put his hand firmly on my arm which I took as an indicator that I was overstepping boundaries.
‘He’s not here and life goes on,’ said Lil starting to look a little teary.
‘We don’t want you to get hurt,’ said Armando just as Gisela returned from the bathroom closely followed by our waitress.
‘Full English please,’ said Lil.
‘I’ve a strange request and wondered whether henceforth you’d consider having scrambled eggs Lil,’ I asked.
‘Errr why? I like a nice runny fried egg,’ said Lil.
‘It’s my mum – ’
‘What’s it got to do with her?’
‘She reads my blog and hearing about runny yolks makes her feel queasy.’
‘I’ve nothing against your mother, I’ve never met the woman, but no. Why don’t you stop writing about it?’
‘A key part of Breakfast Club is breakfast.’
‘In that case, I’ll have an extra runny egg please Judith.’ Lil let out an explosive laugh as she delivered this last line. I’m afraid Mum is going to have to stiffen her upper lip and endure trickling yellow centres.
I ordered porridge with blueberries, Gisela a pain au chocolat and Armando an orange muffin.
‘Think of all the non-meat eaters you offend Boulevardier with your vegetarian breakfast and a pork sausage on the side eh,’ said Lil. Everyone giggled. Lil was on point with her sharp banter today. I suspect it was to keep the discussion away from her and Marty. She must realise he wasn’t as rosy as she painted him. I couldn’t see the appeal.
‘Have you seen Mavis this week?’ I asked.
‘Goodness please don’t mention her,’ said Gisela firmly.
‘Yes I saw that quarrelsome cow on Tuesday at Age Club,’ said Lil ignoring Gisela’s protestations.
‘Oh no, not more arguments,’ said Armando.
Lil pursed her lips and demurely picked up her teacup.
‘She can not help herself Armando. She is snide and I will not be walked over.’
‘Dare I ask what happened?’ I enquired.
‘Yes you may. She was standing with her gaggle of followers when I arrived. I smiled vaguely and walked towards Gisela and the tea urn. As I passed I heard Mavis say that it was unfortunate that some people take Marty too seriously and try to tame him. And what’s more, apparently he’s interested in anything in a skirt. I honestly did think twice Wayne whether to ignore her and carry on but I couldn’t. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned and said to her that he wasn’t interested in her and her polyester trousers and added that if I had her legs I’d wear long pants too. Her followers didn’t know where to look. She added something but I had spun on my heels and reassumed my victory step to Gisela. She hurled something further but I only heard the ‘Lillian’ at the end. There was no tittering from her posse. They know better than to get involved.’
‘What is it with you two?’ asked Armando.
‘History, dear boy.’ And before we could press further, breakfasts arrived. One day I was determined to find out their history. They sparred at the slightest crossing of words, but when the chips were down, had each other’s backs. It was as if there was a blood bond. Were they related? I didn’t ask.
‘Judith,’ Lil called after the waitress, ‘I asked for a runny egg and this is solid.’
‘Oh gawd,’ said Armando under his breath.
‘Sorry I thought you said not runny, let me change it,’ said Judith and started to remove the plate.
‘No, no I’m too hungry to wait,’ said Lil holding onto her plate for dear life.
I sat back and watched Lil tug-o-war, and report battles, as I stirred the blueberries into my steaming porridge.
‘Sorry Lil, you sure you don’t want me to change?’ asked Armando.
‘No it’s fine. At least it will keep Wayne’s mum happy for today. Every cloud and all that,’ said Lil as she sliced a segment of white and pushed it against a mushroom, lifted her fork and masticated.
‘How’s your Brazilian?’ asked Gisela.
‘Gone,’ said Armando. Our cutlery clanked simultaneously on the table and all eyes fell on Armando.
‘It’s fine. It wasn’t working. Dating is too much effort at the moment. I’m going to focus on the café and see what comes along.’
‘Good plan,’ said Lil and returned her knife and fork to her respective hands.
‘Quatsch,’ exclaimed Gisela as a blob of chocolate escaped from her pastry onto her lap.
‘I don’t know why you eat those things Gisela, you always get in a mess,’ said Lil.
‘I don’t, thank you. They are delicious but dangerous.’
Lil huffed as she thrust a corner of toast into her mouth.
We all jumped, as a banger exploded right outside the café followed by a stampede of youth.
‘Bloody hell – Why oh why is half-term the same time as banger season,’ said Lil.
‘Don’t worry, it’ll be bonfire night next week,’ I said.
‘Don’t – just don’t,’ said Lil waggling her finger in my direction. She rested her napkin on the table after daubing the corners of her mouth. ‘Perhaps we should have a little Sherry to settle our nerves,’ she added.
‘Didn’t you have enough of that at the funeral?’ asked Armando.
‘You can never have enough Sherry,’ said Lil as she extracted a new bottle of Bristol Cream from her trolley. ‘Got any glasses Armando?’
I have to say I agree with her last pronouncement and felt quite decadent sipping Sherry at 11am. The only improvement I would suggest would be to have Oloroso. I prefer its dark chocolate taste.