Coffee with the milliner

Today I am going to see my friend, Ms Wengraf, and give her some wings. It’s a long story so put the kettle on and pull up your chair. Some time BC (Before Cancer) Mr Mason and I went to an antique shop in Lincolnshire and spied a pair of vintage wings in a cabinet. They were not really a pair except there were two but they clearly came from different birds. There is something fascinating and yet a little gruesome about them. Although beautiful, they appear to have been ripped from some poor bird in order to adorn a woman. So why buy them? I hear you cry. They had been taken from the bird some time ago. We are not sure of their exact vintage but suspect they are from the 1950s at the very latest. This means I am not encouraging people to go ripping wings off birds in an effort to plug a new and exciting demand so I feel it is OK. I still won’t buy or wear fur, despite there being a huge array of fur and astrakhan coats available for very small prices.

So, the wings. I bought them for my friend, Ms Wengraf, who is a milliner extraordinaire. She also supports herself by working all the hours God sends in a cafe and a bookshop, delighting all the customers with her wit, charm and ready smile. Cancer got in the way of me delivering them to her or her collecting them from me. She did come to visit me but my brain was so scrambled and she was so polite that I forgot to give them to her. So, today is the day. I have an appointment at St Mary’s with Holly, my fabulous psychologist and then I make my way to Scooter’s where Ms Wengraf is dispensing coffee and cake with a magical, sparkling aura around her. At first, she greets me and asks me what I want to drink. It is a double take situation. She looks again and realises it is me and at once she flies (not literally) around the counter and we share an enormous hug. I have a coffee and a slice of cake. Not carrot. There is something wrong with carrot cake and I don’t like it. It’s wrong. I tell Ms Wengraf this and and she tells me that she has had a divine courgette cake but it doesn’t convince me. I know beetroot is used to sweeten cake but it’s still plain wrong. I settle for a chocolate and amaretti cake. Not too much almond flavour which makes it perfect for me. We chat in between customers and I give her the wings. We are repelled and entranced in equal measure. Ms Wengraf thinks she will be able to use them but is not sure how at present. Ms Mason has asked her to make a bridal something to wear on The Big Day and I have asked for a headband with ears on it. Yes, I know. Way too old for such things but I like them and, post cancer, why not? At least I have a head to wear them on, unlike some of my sisters. Anyway, heads need measuring before headgear can be made. I leave with another hug and marvelling at the fortitude of Ms Wengraf who has worked immensely hard to get where she is and is still working like a Trojan.

Arriving home, I turn on the tv and catch part of the Olympic ice free short dance competition. The German pair are dancing the second half of their story which apparently involves them waking up on a park bench. The woman then continues to try to get away from the male skater, according to the commentator. Huh?  Not perhaps the romantic story I was anticipating but maybe skating has got more gritty and down to earth in recent years. On the way home I am drawn invisibly into Patisserie Valerie where I am forced to buy 2 cakes, one each for Mr Mason and I. Yes, I know I had cake with Ms Wengraf but call the police if you think it’s criminal. Some days 2 cakes are essential.

2 thoughts on “Coffee with the milliner

  1. I think I have grasped the gist of this story which, if I am correct, is that Ms Wengraf is to make you a head adornment for your daughter’s Wedding? sorry if I got this wrong – that’s going to be interesting especially as they don’t exactly, according to you, match. But there will be no fur or astrakhan at the Wedding. Well I should hope not in sunny Thailand but we’ll let that pass. At which point was your brain scrambled in this story, before, during or after?
    Letting all this go, do I detect a reluctance to eat your vegetables? Courgette and lime cake is fantastic, as it beetroot and chocolate while carrot and cream cheese icing were made for one another. Of course I am certain you would like my Tropical Banana Cake better because you slice bananas and sprinkle them with Demerara sugar then put the cake mixture on top. This ensures the bananas caramelize and when two sandwich tins of this are sandwiched together (OK repetition but we are not playing Just a Minute) with coffee icing = MAN, OH BOY, OUT OF THIS WORLD unless of course you dislike bananas or coffee icing. I’ll make you one for your birthday if you like the sound of it.
    luv marg ☺

    • OK – Ms Wengraf is going to make a headdress of some kind for The Wedding in November. Mine is going to have ears. The wings are totally unrelated to this and were bought just because I thought she would like them. Banana cake? No, absolutely not. One of the 3 things I cannot eat along with marzipan and sweet coconut. The very smell of them makes me feel sick and headachey. Coffee icing is fine. Now walnuts and coffee are a match made in heaven 🙂

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