The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Special Dispatch: Agora at The Copper Kettle, Cambridge

Agora at The Copper Kettle
4 Kings Parade

by Poppy Tartt

Ah, Cambridge. Little ornamental teapot of a town, sloshing full of the tealeaves of the future, a place where great minds hide inside mousy-looking women sporting fish plaits and unfashionable coats, and there is a preponderance of bicycles.

One morning I found myself here, visiting a great mind, or perhaps a great aunt, it's hard to recall. In my mouth my tongue lurked like a pumice stone. A gong was beaten, announcing the mistakes of the night before. I murmured "oh god"‚ repeatedly. As if my stomach hadn't been punished enough, my thoughts had turned to breakfast.

The Copper Kettle is not, as its quaint name might suggest, the historic site at which great literature incubated whilst a woman affectionately known as Dot served imperfect eggs to swaggering poets - though it does exhibit an emphatic range of copper kettles. It was once, I am told, a rather horrible canteen frequented by the elderly and certain students obsessed with the chic of rubbish places, but these days it has been buffed up and anaesthetised, like a granny on a holiday.

My breakfast was a battle, the site of a war between food and its faithless competitor and sometime lover, the hangover. In between routs I managed to enjoy a rare pair of sausages and bacon, lashings of bread and marmalade for afters. The unfortunate tomato, to which the grill had barely blown so much as a kiss, was jilted twice, and drowned.

Meanwhile a pair of Japanese tourists held hands earnestly above a roast dinner; two old ladies in their Sunday best bent very low over scones, whispering about the twenties, while a mysterious foreigner forked her way through a whole plate of scrambled eggs. In my teacup, the leaves of the future stuck ominously to the sides.


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