I discovered this weekend just gone that the restaurant where The Boy and I got engaged has closed down. It’s the recession. This level of personal grief that makes you raise your shoulders, then let them down emphatically with a hnfnhhmm. How unfair for the owners. How unfair for those seeking top French cuisine in south Suffolk. How unfair for the artists who try and sell work there, and for the camp maitre d’ who was apparently married and we weren’t sure if he was real. It confirmed reluctant suspicions I’d had that a top London French chef could never take a business right through a recession in a one-street town in Suffolk. Crumbs, every other shop was a charity shop there in the nineties. And the quaint downstairs shop, which sold little chocolates and had tea in vast containers with funny names. I’ll miss it. You can’t buy quaint. It is wrong to pastiche, and no craftsman under a certain age can build the fine curved wood and glass windows on these narrow shops today in any case.
Well, technically we didn’t get engaged at the restaurant. We walked down to the beach at Felixstowe and The Boy went down on two knees and asked me, with a ring he had made out of silver foil. I still have the ring. I also still have good memories of saying Yes and of asking him to do it again on One Knee somewhere more public. He obviously loves me: he generously obliged and humoured me and as many passing tourists as we could find outside Christchurch Mansion later that week.
This all goes to prove that if something is worth something to you, you keep it. Memories. Little foil rings. Husbands.
Chocolate shops with French restaurants on top?
Apparently the business has been sold. Let’s just hope Felixstowe doesn’t gain another Cafe de Corporate Franchise Grande there, or a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vegetables clothing shop. None of these raise a smile on the faces of tourists. Or provide loose tea for little old ladies. Or the occasional free bonbon.