‘May I respectfully point out,’ I said, struggling slightly with the respectful aspect, but fully engaged when it came to the pointing out part, ‘that it is currently lashing down?’
‘A bagatelle, a mere drizzle,’ Grange Girl said chirpily.
‘We all know that when you die they will find ‘Grange Gardens’ engraved on your heart. But look, it’s properly pouring. As if God’s not only installed a massive new water-feature, but is defrosting the freezer too while She’s at it.’
‘It’s a teensy shower. We can shelter under that weird tree in the corner.’
‘I’m sorry Grangey, but I’m putting my foot down.’
‘Hey! I can’t move.’
‘I know. I will remove my foot from the edge of your extra-long mackintosh when you agree that we can go into a café.’
‘If we can’t sit in the Grange it means summer is over!’ she wailed.
‘Summer is over. It’s time to admit defeat. That ‘whump’ thing when all the leaves fall down has happened again and I’ve got my vest on and I’ve already circled what I want in the Oxfam Christmas catalogue.’
When her face crumpled I gently led her to the Buttercup Café, which has something of an inside/outside vibe going on. I was careful to usher her to the inside bit, and we watched the rain sheeting down the windows, clasping our tea mugs like extras from a Batchelors Soup advert.
‘The summer is ended and we are not yet saved,’ Grangey intoned, and nibbled a salad leaf mournfully.
‘I had big plans for August. I was going to Do Things. But the weeks flashed by and here we are, allegedly Autumn already, and I’ve done nothing.’
‘I’m just the same. Every single morning of the holidays I was determined that this would be the day I’d iron the kids’ school uniform. Well, they are now known as the Crumple Kids so you can see how that went.’
‘My plans were somewhat bigger. I was going to visit every beach on the Hastings line.’‘Um, why?’
‘For poetry, you philistine, for the sheer romance of the thing. I was going to swim at Cooden Beach, Normans Bay, Pevensey and Westham…’
I bit into a warm chocolate brownie.
‘St Leonards Warrior Square?’
‘Don't be silly.’
‘No-one achieves their summer plans. The school gates are crowded with people saying, “Lovely thanks, no idea what we did, it’s all a blur.” Summer plans are like New Year’s resolutions; we makes ‘em then we breaks ‘em.’
Grange Girl sighed. ‘That brownie looks nice.’
‘Your salad looks cold.’
A particularly spectacular slosh of rain flung itself onto the window and Grangey shivered and pulled her pashmina a little tighter round her bikini. ‘Did I see apple crumble and custard on the menu?’ she asked in a small voice.
‘Two crumbles please,’ I asked the lady behind the counter. ‘And is there any chance you might put the heating on?’
Beth Miller, 6th September 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith