Breakfast at Bill’s @billscambridge

It doesn’t really have the same cachet as Breakfast at Tiffany’s but I like the alliteration.

Until the first Covid lockdown we went to Cambridge just about every Saturday morning and we’d generally have breakfast at Don Pasquale with Tony and Christine. Sadly times have changed. We’ve only been in twice since, Don Pasquale has closed and Christine has died. Who knows what more’s to happen before we’re through the pandemic.

Today I went into Cambridge for the third time since March. I wanted to walk somewhere different, to enjoy someone else serving my Saturday scrambled eggs and smashed avocado, and to buy a few Xmas present books for my grandchildren.

Bill’s did not disappoint. It takes great care with its Covid compliance and the service is prompt, friendly and intelligent. My Americano came swiftly and the scrambled eggs were perfectly acceptable. To be honest there was a touch of the failed omelette about them but it’s maybe asking too much for them to emulate the standard which I set at home. How do you prepare scrambled eggs in industrial quantities anyway? However my customer specification of no butter and toast on the side was observed to the letter. The former is to conform with my low sat diet and the latter to ensure that the toast remains crisp. To cap it all and earn a further merit the portion was generous, maybe three eggs and a whole avocado, and all for £6.

Cambridge itself was sad. I remember a previous visit post lockdown when I felt distinctly uneasy because of the confident, nay cavalier, way that its citizens were enjoying their return to some degree of normality. Not now. OK it was damp with some rain but it’s also only 2 weeks to Xmas, you’d expect some cheer. In the streets people give each other lots of separation and in Grand Arcade I reckon there was close to 100% mask wearing compliance. It was definitely a downbeat Cambridge.

You also worry about what Cambridge will look like when it goes back to tier 1 sometime next year. Although most businesses are soldiering on there is a disturbing number of shops that have closed and hospitality venues which have ceased operating. It reminds me of what happened in 2007/08.

Covid is of course just one of three sources of misery and it may, thankfully. be relatively short term. The other two will plague us either for decades, that’s Brexit, or for ever, that’s climate change. People on the streets of Cambridge were reminded of the latter by a little street theatre when eight or so red-dressed Extinction Rebellion activists walked silently in line through the city. It was powerful and the contrast of the red with the miserable wet of the streets amplified it.

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