“France?” said Terry. “I’ve never been outside Swindon in my life. No, tell a lie. I went to Wootton Bassett once.” He pondered, fiddled his fingers. “France? I get lost in West Swindon. Imagine getting lost in France.”
I was on duty serving guests, guests with stories. It’s difficult to paint a picture in words: people coming in and going out, calm and respectful, with the delicious whiff of an English breakfast as a back-drop. James took orders on an iPad as if it was his day-job. Wayne cooked to order. Lizelle was on toast, then a final check before sending me to the table. Jon and Qamber provided tea or coffee on arrival. It could’ve been any stream-lined restaurant in Swindon.
But it wasn’t. The difference could be summarised in one order: “I’ll have a full English but without the bacon as I’ve no teeth, and no egg as it makes me bilious. White bread but I’ll have to leave the crust.”
For some, it may be the only meal they’d have that day. I could hear the late Sister Theresa saying: “If you can’t feed a hundred, then start with one.” The charity, “Big Breakfast Plus,” started with four breakfasts and has certainly surpassed its objective – nearly fifty received a nourishing meal that morning. There was no judgement, no cajoling, just good catering. The volunteers were led by Charlotte who would signpost outreach charities if requested.
I can’t think of anything more worthy. The Pilgrim Centre is, in the words of Louis McNeice, like:
the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door
It will become even more immediate this coming winter. “Big Breakfast Plus” is open Monday to Friday, 7:30 to 9.00, at the Pilgrim Centre on Regent Street. Sponsor, Volunteer or donate at: https://bigbreakfastplus.org.uk