No, this is not about Greene week at the Book Club, just the good old Attic Cafe in Berkhamsted high street. We usually go there for Sunday lunch but last week we tried something daringly different: Saturday tea! Fancying a toasted tea cake with a pot of Earl Grey I placed my order and settled down to the read the paper. Before long the delicious aroma of toasted teacake wafted across the room. Good, I thought, it won’t be long. A few minutes later a waitress arrived. ‘I’m terribly sorry, Sir, but I’m afraid your teacake got burnt and it was the last one.’ ‘Don’t worry’ I said, ‘I don’t mind if its burnt, I’ll still eat it.’ ‘I’m sorry, Sir, but that won’t be possible. It was burnt to a cinder and had to be thrown in the bin.’ Now I’d have thought the Attic would have timers on their toasters but that’s forgetting it’s a period cafe, set in pre-popup toaster times! Still, there’s always tomorrow. But that led to another problem. Returning with some friends on Sunday afternoon we browsed the antiques floors before going up to the cafe at around 4.35pm. ‘I’m very sorry, Sir, but we’re closed.’ I wouldn’t want to be too hard on the Attic because, like an old friend, you have to put up with the odd quirks and idiosyncracies (like the other time when there was no leek in my leek and potato soup). But how is it that Costa, down the road, and to where we reluctantly retreated, was still packed at 5pm while the Attic shuts its doors half an hour earlier?
Unlike TV with its myriad channels, cinema is still an experience we can all share. And not just the films. How groovy is your movie house? Here we have The Rex with its swivel armchairs and cheese and biscuits delivered to your seat. In Hampstead they have The Everyman. I haven’t been there but I’m told it’s like The Rex only twice the price! (£16.50 per ticket to be precise). One of my young work colleagues, more used to the multiplexes of Stevenage, went there recently and had a fantastic time, except she couldn’t understand why they didn’t sell popcorn! It’s very difficult to explain to someone for whom popcorn and cinema go hand in hand just how annoying it is to be sitting next to someone noisily munching through a tense thriller like Zero Dark Thirty. The Rex’s ban on popcorn is a triumph but only because its benign dictator, James Hannaway, can make up the house rules as he likes. By the way I discovered that you should always try and avoid Rows H and I at the Rex if you can. In Row I legroom is so tight you end up kicking the person in the front and Row H is where you get kicked!
Our first visit of the year to the Old Town Theatre was a disappointment. Mitch Benn is the singer/songwriter whose works are regularly aired on Radio 4’s comedy program The Now Show. The sell-out performance was a mark of his popularity but not with us. Mitch might be clever but he’s not very funny. We left in the interval and enjoyed an early dinner at The Pepper Hut, highly recommended.
I mentioned in February what a cold miserable month it was and here we are towards the end of March and it’s just as bad. It has been snowing all day and the poor old daffodils are drooping under the weight.