The Terrace Cafeteria at the House of Commons, Westminster
House of Commons
(MPs, certain staff and their guests only)
by Marge E. Reen
Parliament is prorogued—ie on a break between one session and the next—and the MPs are, according to the press, ‘on holiday’ but actually they’re more likely to be in their constituencies worrying what to do about UKIP. It’s a May morning just after the local council elections and I take advantage of the calm by having a leisurely breakfast in my workplace. The Terrace Cafeteria is where I come most days for lunch but, as I don’t want to end up like Sir Nicholas Soames, I don’t usually breakfast here as well.
The Terrace is comfortingly old-fashioned with a Pugin-tiled serving area and a wood-panelled, green-carpeted dining room which overlooks the Thames. According to a friend who went to one, it’s like being in a boarding school refectory, and on this unseasonably rainy morning, I feel especially cosseted from the outside world. Modernisms have crept in—to my dismay they now have an electronic screen, which announces the menus of the day, but, for the most part, it’s as unchanging as Michael Fabricant’s hairdo.
At 10 am the Terrace is busy with burly builders, fat policemen and thin researchers. The canteen staff are, as ever, friendly and professional. Breakfast items sweat gently under a heat lamp on the serving counter. I take one rasher of bacon, one sausage, one hash brown and one spoon each of scrambled eggs, tinned tomatoes and mushrooms along with one small cup of filter coffee. All this comes to £3.60. An absolute bargain. It tastes good too. The scrambled eggs are creamy, the sausage herby and plump, the bacon entirely decent and the hash brown a slightly naff guilty pleasure. I do like the fact the tomatoes are tinned as fresh tomatoes can be so hard and tasteless. The mushrooms are a particular delight: unctuous with dark, savoury juices. After all this I feel ready to stride the corridors of power and look David Cameron straight in the eye should I bump into him, which of course I don’t.