Tea Shop Twinkle



Arnold Harris had only been going to the new tea-shop in the High Street since the middle of last month. It had been open for only a few weeks at the time and he had been meaning to go there for a little while. It was at the quiet, unfashionable end of the long High Street drag, so it was never as busy as some of the usual chain coffee shops which jostled for customers in the prime sites near the big stores and the main car park entrances.


It was not quite as expensive as those places, and it was certainly quieter as most mums loaded down with hoards of kids and bulky pushchairs eschewed its relative isolation, narrow gangways and awkward entrance steps. That suited Harry, as he preferred to be known, hardly anyone ever called him Arnie and never Arnold. With the moniker of Harry Harris he was comfortable and names were like comfortable old shoes, only they never wore out or leaked in the rain, did they?


The fact that the tea shop was next to the post office and opposite the library affected the tea-shop's clientele. Post offices are old-fashioned places, kids didn't buy stamps anymore, wrote or posted letters and parcels. Packages were one-way deliveries, ordered on-line and delivered direct to the door, or collected from large out-of-town depots, apparently. Even men out of work, like Harry, were doled out their due allowances directly into their bank accounts and didn't have to get off their butts to collect in person. Only old people went to the post office and then the library and in between they needed the odd cup of tea and perhaps a toasted tea-cake or fruit scone to round off their intermittent excursions.


So this is where Harry sat most weekday mornings between 11 and 11.30, in one of the window seats if he could manage, or in the shadows near the rear from where he could observe the other patrons as they came, supped their brews and went back on their weary way into the world they had come from, rested and refreshed, like reservists heading back reluctantly to the Front, knowing it was their duty so to do.


Harry didn't really consider himself old. On the scrapheap, maybe, unemployable, unwanted, unloved, certainly, but if 55 was the new 40 then he felt he was only 39....


It was the woman in the twi...

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Tony Spencer
Mar 8 2021

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Janette Ostle
Jun 26 2021