old men with ghosts in their eyes sit sipping the first of the day. lost friends and family float in the air as carcasses chew on a roasted nut. they remember happier laughter when mates were plenty and pints 50p. now the laughter is full of bitter tears that fall on froth making sad eyes. No Name sits in his usual seat pouring down blackcurrant soda. he looks enviously at the amber glasses. no longer. doctor’s orders. Racist Phil peers angrily over his drink at the diverse staff then takes a sip of his barcadi and coke. they always smile politely. a lone lady with ruddy face and dye streaked silver hair takes a dash of wine then places a beer mat carefully over the rim. she waits for Harold. what’s keeping him? it’s his round. over cooked sausages, too crisp bacon, and soggy hash browns are presented to customers as a culinary delight. even the watered sauce wants to steer clear. businessmen too tight for Costas sit drinking free refill coffee while loudly demanding attention on their mobile phones. charge points are plenty but none are free. the dregs of the morning hang on as the lunchtime crowd are drawn in by special thursday curry with drink. laughter flies up as banter is machine gunned across tables and mobiles are compared. have you seen this photo? are they real? they can’t be. a lost family wanders in search of convenience. a grubby white high chair is offered like a fallen throne and gratefully accepted. a quick wipe down and it’ll be all right. a fruitshoot and chips for the kids, salad and spritzers for the mums. aren’t we being decadent. what would Michael say? thank heavens for colouring sheets and crayons. No Name orders a blackcurrant and starts the sun crossword. the lone lady, cursing Harold, drinks another wine. peppered curry arrives with lone poppadom and too sweet mango chutney. somewhere a cook cries in his grave. the rush comes to an end and the hearty remain. long gone the businessmen and mums – children to collect. Lone lady gives up, sinks her wine and asks for a taxi. she never has a phone. the writer smile’s at the content, sips his beer.