Having Your Cake and Not Eating It.

February 2, 2012

Like most boys of my age in our area, I was larcenous by nature. If it wasn’t nailed down, chained to a wall or guarded by a brace of Rottweilers I would requisition it. Yes, all right then, steal it. Apples, pears, plums from orchards, empty refundable bottles from the backyards of pubs, ideal for taking round the front and cashing them in to their original proprietor, fruit from open stalls or greengrocers etc.

When I was twelve or so I body swerved school lunch and went to a small tearoom run by an man of indeterminate age. I would go into his café, order a tea and when he went out to his kitchen I would reach around the glass display unit and snatch a cake. I was successful only twice. The third time he pretended to go to the kitchen, but spun round and caught me cake handed. I dropped the bun and he ordered me off the premises telling me never to return.

Twenty-four years later, as a Warrant Officer, I was in my hometown on leave and was asked by the local British Legion to represent the Parachute Brigade at the funeral of one of their members who had fought at Arnhem. I was glad to do so and attended in full dress uniform, Sam Browne belt, medals and my red beret.

Afterwards as I walked up the High Street I passed the tearoom and thought I would love a tea. After all this time, it would certainly be under new management, the proprietor having gone on to greener pastures. Wrong!

As I passed through the doorway, too late to withdraw, I saw it was the same old boy. I decided to brazen it out. What would be the chances he would recognise me after all this time?

I asked for a tea. He poured it, set it in front of me, then with the tongs selected a slice of fruit cake, placed it on a plate alongside the drink, looked me in the eye, without the glimmer of a smile and said,

“I’m just away out the back. Have this, so you’ll no’ have to steal it.”

2 Responses to “Having Your Cake and Not Eating It.”

  1. Gary Dennett Says:

    This story brought back memories of some of my same endeavors as a young child.

  2. Robert Davidson Says:

    ‘A simple ‘Thank you, friend’.

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