It was one of those faux Ye Old English Tea Shoppes serving tidbits as inauthentic as its spelling and typography, neither of which would have passed muster in Shakespeare's first folio. But any port in the downpour outside, and there wasn't a Chinese restaurant in sight, my usual island of serenity in a passing storm.
The dainty little menu, doubtless assembled with your maiden aunt from Dubuque in mind, offered a variety of just what you would expect: crumpets, tea cakes, and jam-and-clotted cream to go with your days-old scone. Let's just say it wasn't Twining's on the Strand. Or even the Empress in Victoria, B.C.
Ah, yes, a good strong breakfast blend was called for, one that would wash away the aftertaste of the latest mediocre editorial I'd just committed. Writing on deadline, if it can be called writing at all, is scarcely the way to serve you, Ever Indulgent Reader. "Nothing can be more useful to a man," said Thoreau, "than the determination not to be hurried." Clearly he was not in the newspaper business.
The place had all the usual accouterments of a poor imitation of a real English tea room: an adjoining gift shop full of tchotchkes no decent shoplifter would bother to steal, an aged waitress in good serviceable shoes (the only authentic feature in the room), and an atmosphere -- excuse me, ambiance -- that you knew it would be a relief to leave behind in half an hour. But tea is tea, necessity is the mother of desperation, and ... goodness, who was that over in the corner looking out the window with a properly concealed disdain?