"Smells like I sound, I'm lost in a crowd and I'm hungry like the wolf."
As the steam pressure builds up in the thin pipe, a gentle whistle gradually gets louder and louder, declaring to the woman behind the bar that soon the piping hot water will be ready to pour over the small, porous, sealed bag of tea leaves. I am sat in the corner, in awe at how Sandra is able to hold the small metallic jug under the pipe and manage to open the seal around the thin neck of the plastic bag holding the cut slices of white bread. Without looking, she manages to guide the metal container of scalding hot water over the three ceramic mugs that are lined up like soldiers, nervously waiting for their Colonel to inspect their uniforms.
“You in a rush Sandra, my love?” I ask, as she places one of the soldiers with the white handle in front of me.
“Yes I am sweetheart,” she hurriedly replies, “Steve Cavaler has got one more delivery to do for B. Taylor deliveries and then we are off to the bingo, it’s our first official date!”
“I just hope it goes as well as it did last time when we are Pontins!” I say, “I remember you ended up with a big win up, there didn’t you Sandra?”
“That’s right Mike I did!” Sandra said with a coy smirk, “I just hope I have more luck than when Millwall ended up in that neck of the woods. I know it wasn’t Norfolk where we just drew 2-2, but Ipswich isn’t too far away from there is it?”
“I know, you’re right Sandra,” I agree, “wasn’t the best performance was it? But at the end of the day, to go away to Portman Road, get a result and be disappointed by that shows how far we’ve come doesn’t it? It was nice to see you up there. Harry was happy! See the little wave he gave you from the car?”
“I did Mike, at least someone had a good time though. Chopper said he was quite frustrated with the result, didn’t he? He was right, we had countless opportunities and that their goalkeeper is one of the best in the division.”
“Bit like Steve Cavalar,” Sandra gushed, “he’s one of the best I’ve seen and a real keeper.”
“Behave yourself Sandra!” I squirm, “you’re putting me right off my scrambled egg here!” I take a moment away from Sandra’s love-sick puppy eyes and switch on my iPad. Using my left index finger to glide across the cold glass, I take time to look over the recent news at The Den.
“This is horrifically sad isn’t it?” I say in a sombre tone as I look on the official club website, “Ray Wilkins has passed away and there are some statements here from the club. He was brilliant for us Wilkins, didn’t play that many games for us but how he and Wisey helped get Millwall to the FA Cup Final means he’ll always be fondly remembered. An absolute gentleman and one who’ll be sorely missed, Neil Harris says the same himself it was a real pleasure to play under him.”
I take another sip of my builder’s strength tea and tidily put my stainless-steel knife and fork together in what’s left of my bean juice when ‘Arry walks in.
“I can’t believe this!” ‘Arry shouts, “you had a breakfast without me!”
“Well how is that my fault?!” I reply, “you walk through the Quays and tell me you’ll grab a quick coffee. That was an hour ago!”
“Well I’m sorry Mike,” ‘Arry says, gently pulling his varnished wooden chair back to sit down on. Before he continues talking he has to apologise to the fluorescent high-vis wearing worker he has accidentally nudged with the frame of his chair. “It’s not every day they do Fat-Free Iced Caramel Macchiato, Upside Down, Extra Caramel with whipped cream, glazed cherries, a blueberry jus, raspberry sprinkled flakes and hundred and thousands at a third of the price is it? I think finding that this morning was a success, don’t you?”
“Your sounding like Neil Harris as well!” I angrily reply to my friend who has made me wait for what seemed like longer than Millwall’s continued unbeaten run. “He said that the players are hungry to be successful. Reckons that Millwall play with that extra yard because they are so determined, but it’s going to be heaving down here again as the Bristol City manager has issued a rallying cry to all the City fans coming down. You got extra supplies for this weekend?”
“Well,” said Sandra giggling like a schoolgirl, “Steve Cavalar did give me an extra couple of boxes of hash browns. But you mustn’t tell B. Taylor Deliveries, or he will get in a lot of trouble.”
“Tell you what Sandra,” said ‘Arry as our favourite waitress brings him over his Grande Chai Tea Latte, 3 Pump, Skim Milk, Lite Water, No Foam, Extra Hot that has become his new favourite, “you let us watch the ‘Boro game that’s now on telly in here, then I won’t tell anyone about the extra supplies that Mr. Cavalar has given you?”
“Deal!” Sandra says with a firm handshake.
“Enough of you trying to get one over your mates,” I laugh, “what’s been happening with the Lionesses...”
Called off, called off, called off... I’m not even talking about two suspicious calling offs for Millwall Lionesses last Wednesday and Sunday, I’m talking about the crazy golf tournaments I plan to go to with Mike in the summer!! Legend has it, there’s not enough caffeine to suit my needs around there.
With the Lionesses seeing both away games to Spurs and Sheffield being called off last week, it means they will play seven games in just over a month, five of them being away from home. Let’s just hope they all get a good full English down them before each game! With such a busy schedule coming up, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make my weekly visit to the cafes to see Mike each week...
Stop your crying, this is all I do and I can’t leave now! #MSCforever. In other news, Rianna Dean was called up for the England Lionesses U20s. Rianna has been in scintillating form recently and has rightly been selected to represent her international side. I posed a question to Mike that many would fear asking the lean, mean writing machine.
“Where do you get your ideas from?” I asked in an intriguing manner. “The Japanese themed report the other day had me so confused!!”
“I got so much time on my hands nowadays,” Mike replied, “with Lee Burch still not giving me the call up, I thought I’d make my reports more cultural.”
“Can you help me with mine then?” I laughed, “if you had to put a theme on the Oxford game what would it be?”
“Men in Black...” Mike started to suggest, “but do Women in Blue, starring Charlie Devlin and Rianna Dean, it’s a box office hit. Just like their finishing, no one would miss that!!”
“Someone had a film night with the missus last night, didn’t they?” I said.
“You won’t have time to watch any films with the back catalogue of games coming up.” Mike replied, reminding me that all the cancelled games will create quite the backlog.
“You’re telling me,” I agreed, “I got all the way to Spurs and had to come home because it got called off so late! The FA need to fix up or the Greasy Spoon Fellas are going to have to do a video rinsing them. 500 reads and we will!”
“Erm... Just not going to pre-warn me no?” Mike asked, “just like when you interview the Lionesses and they have no idea what they are being asked?”
“Sandra! Can Mike have another cuppa please?!” I shouted, “he’s run out, think he is getting nervous about the penalty shoot-out….”