The Emperor’s New Suit

Crazy scenes at my local Caffè Nero last week… It all began as I was enjoying a mid-morning coffee in the sun, in the midst of ‘unofficial pensioners’ club’.

Unofficial pensioners’ club is basically an organic gathering of local retirees. It mainly consists of previous blog stars: Malcolm (Majorca-obsessed, snappily-dressed ex-businessman, who keeps making a bee-line for me); Peter (friendly former body-building weepy-widow, still grieving the loss of his beloved Brenda); Richard aka Porridge-Loving Pensioner (decrepit war veteran, sits wistfully in window, newly-discovered penchant for Jackie Collins novels); Linda, aka one of The Miserleys (a sharp-tongued, child-hating antique dealer, who I have very little dealings with).

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… and then me – the honorary member!

Enter Malcolm, stage right. Malcolm pottered past me carrying a suit bag – and headed in the direction of Porridge-Loving Pensioner. It emerged that he had – bizarrely – bought Porridge-Loving Pensioner a new suit!

Suit dispatched, Malcolm came to join me in the sunshine.

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‘How are the Mallorca plans coming along?’ he said, taking a sip of his black coffee.

‘Very well,’ I said. ‘I’ve been reading your books and feel like I’ve got a really handle on the island.’ (lie!)

Suddenly, Porridge-Loving Pensioner hobbled over and loomed in.

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‘Can I get you a coffee, my friend?’ he rasped.

‘No coffee,’ said Malcolm. ‘But what I do want to see is you wearing that suit I’ve bought you…

‘You’ll never get a woman looking like that!’

‘The only woman I want is this one,’ said Porridge-Loving Pensioner, leaning and grabbing my cheek, as I tried not to recoil.

To be fair, Porridge-Loving Pensioner does seem to have a standard outfit of tatty leather jacket and grubby shirt. But he’s 87! One day we’ll all be old with bits of food and dribble crusted on our clothes.

Porridge-Loving Pensioner muttered something about possibly wearing the suit to a hospital appointment next week, before hobbling back to his perch in the window.

‘I can’t believe you’ve got him a suit!’ I exclaimed to Malcolm.

‘He’s such a scruff-bag,’ said Malcolm, who I think has delusions of being the man from Del Monte. ‘I thought it might help to smarten himself up.’

‘Well that’s very, er, kind,’ I said.

The next day, I entered Caffè Nero – eager to see whether Porridge-Loving Pensioner would be sitting resplendent in his new suit.

But he was crumpled in the corner sans suit.

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It might have been my imagination but he seemed even more dishevelled than normal. I gave him a wave.

Just as I was settling down with my latte, Peter arrived.

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‘Yesterday,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘You looked stunning,’

The old devil!

‘Malcolm’s bought Richard a suit!’ I said.

‘I know,’ said Peter. ‘I don’t know why he gets so involved.

‘Once you open the door, it just opens wider.’

‘Very true,’ I said.

‘I’ve got enough dependents,’ Peter continued.

‘I was saying to Malcolm yesterday how beautiful you are.’

‘Malcolm said, ‘Pete, she’d not just beautiful on the outside, she’s beautiful on the inside too’.’

Peter gave me a wink.

‘Don’t tell the husband,’ he whispered.

And with that, he ambled off with his coffee.

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