A Fine Old Breakfast
By Michael Carl-David Healey
Location: Church Street West, Radcliffe
‘I’ll take you for breakfast,’ said my dad one Saturday morning when he picked my brother, my sister and me up from Mum’s. ‘Bab’s Caf’ (missing either an ‘e’ or an ‘f’) is where we arrived. It was a proper greasy spoon, the type we all love, whereby the chef can fry eggs with a fag in his mouth and nobody minds.
There were a scattering of regulars, the type you’d expect to find. A bloke picking horses from a tea-stained newspaper with the kind of face that told a million stories that all ended in the same way. Under the table he was feeding bits of toast to a dog that looked as though it was long overdue a telegram from the Queen.
Two women from the market sat nattering in the corner about how Jean’s eldest, Simon, moved down to Brighton and came back ‘one of them’ but praising him on how polite and wonderful he was. Then there was the chef, if ever there was a theory that man was related to ape here lay the proof, a big lumbering man with a sloping forehead, grazed knuckles and an expression that translated as ‘I don’t love anybody’.
It’s not the type of place you’d see in Hollywood, nor is it the sort of place you’d take someone on a first date, but you can’t knock it for its character.
‘Y’alright love, what yer ‘avin?’ the waitress asked, wiping her nose, obviously full of a cold.
‘Er, four full English brekkies please,’ my dad replied.
Now I must point out that at this moment in time I had been daydreaming about my dad’s current situation. I was unsure whether he’d quit his job and found a new one or not but for reasons I can’t answer, just as the waitress asked us if we’d like any drinks, it came out as: ‘Are you still on the dole dad?’
My sister, only eight years old, looked at the waitress and said with a sigh, ‘I’ll just have water.’
My dad was dumbfounded. ‘Eh? What, no! Have what you want, coke or tea…’ he began, and the waitress gave a sympathetic squeeze of his on his shoulder and said in a moment of solidarity, ‘you’ll be alright love’.
And she was off to get the drinks. I could feel his eyes burning into me, more out of confusion than anything else.