The pursuit of free food

It’s been a very hard week. Rain upon rain upon rain, and a fair bit of wind. Some of my kit hasn’t been dry since Tuesday. And I can’t have been eating or sleeping properly, because today I felt absolutely knackered all day. And not just the normal, end-of-week, looking-forward-to-the-pub knackered. At 9 this morning I noticed my body trying to fall asleep between jobs. By lunchtime I was having to concentrate extra-hard to make sure I didn’t doze off whilst riding along High Holborn.

And nothing I did seemed to help. I religiously pumped in caffeine and sugar every hour or so, trying to create artificial energy to make up for the fact that I had no real energy left. The phrase ‘running on empty’ has never rung so true. I walked around the block whenever I was on standby, keeping moving for fear I wouldn’t be able to get going again if I let myself relax. Whenever I had a conversation with anyone, I slurred my sentences, and muddled up my words, as though I was drunk. I’m so glad it’s over.

And I probably wouldn’t have survived without this woman:

She’s called Leila, and I met her on Tavistock Street (WC2), as I was locking up my bike outside Treadwell’s Bookshop. She was standing outside her cafe, as you see above, beckoning people in for free hot drinks. Yes, FREE! (Well, 1p. That’s effectively free.) I was very sceptical. There had to be some sort of catch. But there really wasn’t, and she and the waitress were quite obviously delighted to prove people wrong.

And they had real European hot chocolate, almost as thick as custard. They gave me two cups, and refused to accept my 1p.

She told me to tell all my friends. So I’m telling you. If you’re anywhere near London, go. She’s at 36 Tavistock Street, and the offer’s on every day. It probably won’t last forever though, and wouldn’t you hate to miss it?


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