There’s a new bakery just opened on Terrace Road. The Pelican Bakery and Coffee House. I walked past this morning, early. It must’ve been about 5.20 am. I looked in as I went past. At the far end of the shop a man in an apron was taking loaves out of one of the ovens. I could see the counter, just by the window as you go in. The bread shelves were virtually bare. Like Russia in the eighties or post-war Britain, barely out of rationing. There were a few specialist bakes on the lower shelf, sweet cakes in cellophane. The rest, as I say, were bare, the hand-written labels standing sentinel, waiting, ready. Small Wholemeal, Large White and Granary. There was something poignant about them being hand-written. Not quite professional. A homely concern. On the counter were a few freshly baked loaves wrapped in cling film. They looked as if they were waiting for someone, waiting for someone to collect them. The baker had a bald head. He was in a light blue t-shirt. Their was a fan in the window, a large, circular chrome one. It was blowing full pelt. Outside it was -1.
I am warmed to the cockles by this new endeavour. I wish them all the luck in the world. Two shops up is The Crimson Rhino café. Also, quite new. A haphazard affair to begin with. It’s shop sign, also hand-painted. An array of fruit and vegetables ripen in the window. Avocados, yams, tomatoes, chillies. The staff are young. I imagine ex-students, having fallen in love with the place now eager to make their own way here. It gets busy in the afternoons. The windows steam up with heat from the bodies and the cooker.
I’m glad. I’m glad for Terrace Road. It’s a shabby road at the best of times. There is a second-hand record shop, Knockout a dealer in cheap furniture, a curio shop with an assortment of oddities in the window (presently there is a French Horn, a 1930s Doll’s House, a Hornby train-set and a ceramic egg holder in the shape of a hen)The Hot Dumplings Chinese Take-Away, Jacob’s a fried-chicken seller and Spartacus Sandwich Shop. There used to be two hairdressers. Now there is just Margaret’s. The lighting is stark. She is often unoccupied. Her busiest times are Friday mornings when the pensioners come in for a rinse and set. Mostly she sits at the counter reading magazines. There are other shops but they are boarded up. Two years ago the council paid for the road to spruced-up. There was scaffolding everywhere. Licks of paint. But the shabbiness has returned. Petrol fumes and dirt. Splashes. Some roads are like that, destined to be un-pretty. Through roads. No one stops.
Those clouds look like snow, he said as we drove to the supermarket.