Before we lived in Brighton, M and I went to university in Bath. I worked at a restaurant called the Walrus and Carpenter, an iconic place that had been going for over 30 years. The menu stayed the same year in, year out - the owner joked that if the dishes on the ‘Special’ menu stayed there for 10 years, he’d move it to the permanent one. The staff who worked there were like a big family - we were all close and shared the same ‘quirky’ qualities that the regular customers kept returning for. I worked there for just over 2 years before moving away and for most of that time I worked with a woman called Elaine.
Elaine and I never had a moments silence between us - we’d be chatting as we moved swiftly around the tiny restaurant, dodging in between each other to get drinks and move plates around, charming the customers and keeping everyone happy. In between, we talked. Now, I talk very quickly when I’m on a roll, and Elaine could easily keep up with me, which is always such a relief! We shared stories about our lives and the ones we loved, and one day Elaine told me about a treasure chest cake she made for her son. “Oh, it’s easy, Kat! You could do it - just bake a cake in a loaf tin, slice in half and prop the top up like the top of the chest, get a load of pick n’ mix that look like treasure and you’re done!” It sounded VERY exciting, and I couldn’t wait to make it for M - even though he’s 24.
I had that conversation with Elaine about 2 years ago but yesterday I finally did it! If I say so myself, it is one good looking cake. I had so much fun in the sweet shop - I found chocolate coins (good thing about M’s birthday being near Christmas) edible silver beads, lumps of toffee that look like nuggets of gold and the piéce de resistance - chocolate liqueurs shaped like bottles, in branded foil wrappers!The Walrus and Carpenter restaurant closed down not long after we moved to Brighton. I went back to visit a few months ago and peered sadly into its darkened windows. Things were still left in the empty rooms - poster marks on the walls and the carpets half removed. The till was still there, with one lonely ticket still pierced onto the metal spike beside it. The closure of the Walrus such a sad thing for so many lives, but I hope everyone will remember it in its hay day, with over 100 covers on a Saturday night, people crammed onto tiny tables, tea lights everywhere lighting up the posters covering the walls; decorating the rooms with memories of plays and concerts from the last 50 years. The cocktail bar upstairs filled to bursting and bacon and cheese burgers being served at every other table. I worked with some lovely, lovely people but especially Elaine for over 2 years of weekly banter, chat and giggles.
Lots of love x