Golden Memories: Tea Rooms and Cafes
On the face of it, tearooms wouldn't seem to be as exciting as nightclubs. Nevertheless, they have their moments too.
In the biker years warm cafes with fry up atmospheres, juke boxes and pin tables, were often the best part of a cold winter run. Later on, tearooms in stately homes and galleries offered the unspoken reward my family craved at the end of an 'educational' trip out. Later still, I would often pop into a hotel bar or art cafe for half an hour's pampering, newspaper or book in hand, and the smell of serious coffee.
Now for the interesting bit.
These visits are full of images. In one seafront cafe a new semi-automatic door had been installed which completely baffled people attempting to leave. Queues of up to six or seven people would form as the location of the release button was sought. Sometimes a frustrated man would force the doors apart, only to be trapped half way through. In the middle of winter these doors would sometimes have a mind of their own, opening and closing every thirty seconds, efficiently turning the place into a fridge.
On the outside, people were also mystified when the sign said 'open' and the door remained firmly shut. An old man used both hands to feel around the door like a safe breaker, oblivious to the fact his trousers had fallen around his ankles.
Just beyond the cafe a nomadic park dweller had taken over one of the Victorian shelters. He had blocked openings in the structure with cardboard boxes and then fitted a curtain to the entrance. Being a sociable type, however, he would sometimes stick his phallus around the curtain to urinate on the pavement.
Not all tearooms were welcoming, of course. Some staff had faces as long as a wet weekend, and even some owners who had swopped urban stress for a rural idyll, seemed to be having second thoughts. One old lady greeted every customer by saying,
"What do yer want!?"
Best of all, I think, was the old girl at the biker cafe (previously written about) who turned every hot drink into a biological weapon.
I'll never know what it tasted like.