My friend from Brownies, Gillian, is launching her new café today, Modern Millie’s (formerly known as Lou’s Kitchen) and we've come along for the launch. It’s Bank Holiday Monday, it’s raining, there’s free tea and coffee on offer, where else would you want to be?
MM’s is packed. There are no spare tables. I spot Gillian’s mother and seek her out to say hello. I tell her I know Gillian from Brownie’s and that I recognise her as Gillian’s mother. Gillian’s Mum doesn't remember me. She offers us her table and myself and the husband sit down. The place is noisy and smokey, customers are helping to clear the tables, the kitchen is a hubbub of clattering and chattering. Orders are placed, take away cartons are crammed full and passed over the counter, the cash register is red hot. Customers come and go as we read the menu. A waitress appears but we ask her to give us a minute. I hear a very well dressed woman telling someone she is from Holmfirth. “You know, Last of the Summer Wine”.
Danny opts for a corned beef and red onion barm. I settle for a toasted tea cake.
I go up and order at the counter as the staff look hard pushed.
“Two coffees, one black…”
I ask for corned beef on a brown roll. I am told they don’t have a brown roll but they do have a brown barm.
Mugs of coffee arrive. Husband wonders out loud why I didn’t “just say barmcake in the first place”. He also wants to know why I asked him if he wanted sauce when he never has sauce. My answer to both questions is “no idea”.
Somehow I am flustered.
My toasted teacake arrives and is ready cut, buttered and piping hot. In fact it is so hot there is steam coming out of it. I appreciate this. I don’t have to fumble around unfurling a knife from a rolled up serviette. I don’t have to go to the counter to ask for more butter. I don’t have to attempt to butter a teacake on a plate the size of a small saucer. I don’t have to put up with a cold tea cake. I don’t have to put up with a dilatory waitress. The teacake is 60p. Delicious. No frills. The corned beef barm is £1.80 and is wolfed down.
As we finish up I tell my husband an anecdote that my Dad likes to tell me, I don’t remember the incident. Apparently when I was about four or five years of age, I had gone on a trip to Manchester with my Dad. Father walked me round town (Manchester) taking a similar route that his own father had done with him in the 1930s and 1940s. We took in Tib Street, Shudehill and Victoria Train Station. My Dad was looking for a suitable café for us. Finally we found one. As I heartily tucked into a plate of chips and looked up at the man behind the counter, I said to him, “Me and my Dad have been looking for a scruffy café for ages”.
(photos to follow....)