“Thank you Mrs Beattie.’
Tom was a stickler for good manners and he drilled his staff to be polite to every customer. Even the awkward ones who came in drunk asking for food had to be shown the same courtesy.
“One such Customer was Edwin Pugh, he came in every morning asking the same question today was no exception. The man was creepy looking with a scruffy beard and a brown trilby that was so old the sweat had stained it. His trousers were no better as he had urine stains on them and he smelled of stale sweat every time he lifted the arms of the dark grey jacket he was wearing. He lived on Charlotte Street next door to Shirley; he’d moved into Alice Blenkinsopp’s house. The old lady had died and Edwin had moved in shortly after. He like many others was given a week to decorate the house but all he did was move a few sticks of furniture into the house and got a week without paying his rent which he blew in the boozers of Shields. He lived on the bare minimum and picked up food that was past it’s sell by date.
“Got any old pies.’
“No Mr Pugh; we only sell freshly made pies here.’
“What about bread and buns then?’
“Sorry the bread has just been baked.’
“I’ll come back before you close then he moaned then went across the road to the cafe where he would sit drinking one pot of tea all morning and most of the afternoon.’
If he was lucky someone would take pity on him and buy him a sandwich or a cooked meal and another pot of tea.
Rob was rolling out the pastry to make the cakes with as Tom was stacking the van with pies and bread ready to be delivered. He had to lock the doors because there was always some sly little bugger who would be waiting somewhere to pounce and steal a tray of pies and run off down the street with them. Tom learned through working at Archer’s not to take chances.
He was bringing out a tray of cakes when his wife returned. “Hi love do you need some bread and buns.’
“No I think we have some but I will take a loaf and whatever else you have for your mother.
“Do me a favour will you; drop a couple of pies in for Mickey for me will you he usually has nothing but a sandwich for his lunch and he and Christine will be hungry.’
Yes I’ll do it on my way home.’
“Where have you been anyway?’
“I’ve been to the doctors.’
“Doctors, are you alright?’
“I’m just a little anaemic the doctor says.’
“Has he given you anything then?’
“Yes, he’s given me some iron tablets.’
“Good; they will perk you up a bit.’ Wait up until I put these cakes into the van and I will bring you something out for mam and for Mickey.’
Tom opened the van door and slid the tray inside the shelf then relocked the door he ran inside as Shirley took the brakes off the pram.’
He returned with several bags. “Here these are for mam he said as he placed them into the bag that hung on the front on two metal hooks. Then he placed the other bags on the blue pram cover. Those are for Mickey he said. He looked in the pram at his son who was sleeping before kissing his wife briefly before getting into the van and pulling away.
Shirley waved at Liz before heading towards her mother in laws house.’