My dear friend Delia is delighted with my suggestion that we meet up for a socially distanced chat on the sea front by the Sea Lane Café. I have chosen the venue carefully, partly because Delia lives across the
road. Almost as importantly for One Who Is Always Thinking About Her Stomach, I am reliably informed that the Sea Lane Café’s takeaway menu includes delicious bacon sandwiches.
Delia’s only concern is that we shall have to sit on wooden benches which will be extremely wet on account of the constant rain. She advises me to bring along a plastic carrier bag on which to sit, in order to avoid what they
call on Bake Off, a soggy bottom. It’s a good thing she reminded me because this is exactly the kind of thing I never think about until it’s too late.
to recap - every Wednesday the Lovely Kay, who helps me keep my house in order, spends a couple of hours over lunchtime keeping Mr B in order (if you believe that, you’ll believe anything) while I have some “me time.” Mr B says this is so
that I can get away from him for a bit, which makes me sad - I tell him it’s not like that at all, it’s just getting away from everything for a couple of hours in these days when all the activities which made life in retirement so much fun have
been necessarily curtailed. In the first few weeks of “me time” I managed to join the tribe of Ladies That Lunch but the second Lockdown has put paid to that too. It’s rather more difficult to decide what to do with my two precious hours
when the weather is cold, wet and windy and the many splendid local eateries can only offer takeaways (however delicious.)
Gathering my possessions (purse, phone,
face mask but not necessarily in that order) I am reminded of Delia’s advice and search around for a plastic carrier bag. This isn’t too difficult, given that I have a collection of Bags for Life to last me through several reincarnations, if needed.
Most of them are stored in the cupboard under the stairs where they are only disturbed once a month by the requirement to read the gas and electricity meters. I can’t even use them to transport unwanted items to the local charity shops which are, of
course, all shut under Lockdown.
I study the carrier bags - a motley mix from virtually every supermarket, demonstrating my lack of loyalty to any particular
brand - they may well last for life but none of them look particularly up to the task of protecting my bottom from the cold, wet seaside benches. Which is when, all of a sudden, I am struck by a quite startling shaft of inspiration....
As I park the car on Marine Drive, I can spot Delia across the road, walking slowly towards the café and I bound over to join her. I check in at the venue using the app on
my mobile phone feeling ridiculously virtuous then order myself the longed for bacon sandwich, a large latte (Go Large is my motto where coffee is concerned) and join Delia in the marquee outside, clutching a slip of paper informing me that my order number
is 35, to wait, at an appropriate social distance, with the other hungry takeaway diners. While we wait we both make sure that, despite the drizzly rain, our jaws at least will not rust.
Once my sandwich arrives in its special container, we walk over to a nearby bench - I am surprised and delighted to discover that it is dedicated to a friend of mine who sadly died some years ago. I feel honoured to sit in her bench.
Delia pulls a carrier bag from her pocket and proceeds to spread it on the bench; I, for my part, ceremoniously unroll - my bath mat.
Though I say so myself as
shouldn’t (as my dear Mum would doubtless chide me) I think this is sheer brilliance on my part. My bath mat is both bright and cheerful, being covered in multi-coloured spots, and stretches across half the bench. It is only a pity that it isn’t
long enough for both our bottoms to perch on it but it keeps me warm and dry - anyone would think it was made for the purpose. I do receive a few strange looks when we take a delightfully companionable wander along the sea front after I’ve finished my
lunch, my spotty bath mat rolled up under my arm but, as you know, I believe in assuming the best, rather than the worst about others.
“Look at that!”
they are thinking, “It’s a bath mat - what a stroke of genius!”
Or words to that effect...