Phil, and some charming elderly people.

Phil (SLING) has developed a worrying limp. I’m starting to think he may not be cut out to be Indiana Jones at all. Then again, he has probably avoided death on countless occasions, so a leg wound, inflicted, no doubt, in the heat of a heroic battle, is a small price to pay. There is always the possibility that he simply tripped over the cat, but that’s not really his style. Perhaps his limp made him feel more at home in the café at eleven o’clock this morning when the next crowd of customers descended upon us.

By ‘descended’ I of course mean ‘shuffled, wheeled and trotted towards us a steady pace’. This because the 11am crowd is, for obvious reasons, made up almost entirely of ‘people-who-have-nothing-better-to-do-at-11am-on-a-Thursday’. This is mainly elderly people, who seem to have a natural fondness for ‘the tea room’ as they so generously call us. I once witnessed an elderly gentleman following his wife impatiently around the shop, hopefully miming a ‘cup of tea’ action every time she  stopped, like a very one sided game of charades. His long suffering wife eventually gave in and set him off to wait for her in the café with the immortal words; “You can have your b***dy tea Geoffrey, but don’t think you’ll be having an almond croissant until I get there!” He trotted off happily and ended up queuing behind a very frail old man who was having trouble deciding what to order.

After trying to tempt the dignified yet fragile customer with a variety of cakes and biscuits, coffees, flavoured lattes and smoothies, he decided he wanted tea, we eventually decided on red fruit tea and he smiled, paid, and went to stand at the end of the counter to wait for his drink. A few customers later, the Red Fruit tea was still waiting on the side, so I took it over to the elderly man, who was now seated at a table. To my surprise, I found him tucking into a huge slice of coffee cake and sipping delicately from a luxury hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream and mini marshmallows. “Didn’t you order red fruit tea Sir?” I smiled, a little confusedly.

“Absolutely not” he replied, equally confused, “this is what I ordered”.
“Perhaps” I persisted, “perhaps you picked up the wrong tray – this is your drink.” I lifted the lid of the tea as enticingly as possible, “Red Fruit tea?” He turned and looked at me with a horrified look on his face. I may as well have cut off my finger and put it in the tea pot for him.
“Why would I order that?” he asked incredulously, “It has berries in it.” To be perfectly fair to the man; he had a point. I wasn’t even mad at him for mistakenly stealing cake, and I couldn’t exactly confiscate it when he was enjoying it so much, so I apologised, and returned to the counter. At the counter, a customer tapped me on the shoulder, “err – excuse me, I ordered a hot chocolate? And, err, a slice of coffee cake…” I sighed, and proffered the tea pot, lifting the lid enticingly; “Red Fruit tea?”

For the most part, post 11am and pre the-lunchtime-rush, the café is very mellow, although some customers do have rather bizarre complaints. A man approached me today and held out his freshly made coffee for me to inspect. He obviously thought that there was no need for an explanation, and seemed surprised when I had to ask “is everything all right with your coffee Sir?”
“Well”, he replied, as if he were stating the obvious, “it appears to be dead.”
“Dead?” I repeated. He nodded, grimly. “Dead” I repeated again, “popped its socks has it? Fallen off this mortal coil? I suggest a modest, tasteful funeral and I’ll see if I can get on to Adele and ask her to sing that song about chasing pavements.” Except of course I didn’t say that. I just apologised for serving him a deceased beverage and made him a fresh coffee. Having no frame of reference as to whether this perfectly normal coffee would be any more alive than his previous perfectly normal coffee, I then had to place it reverently before him and ask; “is it alive?” as if he were some kind of skilled surgeon or coffee-whisperer. After a moment of consideration, he declared doc. Frankenstein style that it was “alive!” and shuffled happily off. I watched him go, slightly amused, and then went back to my real business of the morning; surreptitiously drinking the dregs of the chocolate milk from making hot chocolates. (Which just so happen to end up in a takeaway cup, and then in my mouth) Bliss! I momentarily enjoyed some peace and quiet before I was shaken from my reverie by an angry cry of “Geoffrey! I told you not to have your almond croissant until I arrived!”

*It’s Thursday! Thursday is a thing now. MTGPVX

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