“Nothing helps scenery like bacon and eggs.”*

*Mark Twain

From: Bohemia in London (1907), by Arthur Ransome:

“There is something gypsyish about coffee-stalls, something very delightful…there is none I have loved so well as this small untidy box on the Embankment. That was a joyous night when for the first time the keeper of the stall recognised my face and honoured me with talk as a regular customer. More famous men have seldom made me prouder. It meant something, this vanity of being able to add “Evening, Bill!” to my order for coffee and cake. Coffee and cake cost a penny each and are very good. The coffee is not too hot to drink, and the cake would satisfy an ogre. I used to spend a happy twenty minutes among the loafers by the stall. There were several soldiers sometimes, and one or two untidy women, and, almost every night, a very small very old man with a broad shoulder to him, and a kindly eye. The younger men chaffed him, and the women would laughingly offer to kiss him, but the older men, who knew his history, were gentler, and often paid for his cake and coffee, or gave him the luxury of a hard boiled egg…

…It is something as you walk disconsolate down a publisher’s stairs…to be able to pull up your despair with a stout breath, a toss of your head, a thought of the wind in your face, and the straight road over the moorland, with the peewits overhead; something, when eating a hard-boiled egg at a coffee-stall, to remember another occasion, when in greater straits you were less pusillanimous, and tossed away your last eighteenpence to feed and sleep royally in a little village inn, ready to face the world with empty purse and cheerful heart in the sunshine of the morning…

…Gradually, as he grows absorbed in the painting, he has even less brain to spare, and the talk becomes more and more mechanical; but if Serafina is the right kind of model she will do her share of keeping herself amused.

“What have you got for lunch?” she asks.

“Four eggs!”

“What way shall we cook them do you think?”

“You know how to scramble them. Four eggs are enough for that?”

“Yes. I’ll scramble them – you have milk? – and butter?”

“Got them first thing this morning. By the way, I met Martin at breakfast. You’ve posed for him, haven’t you?”

And so the talk goes on…

…She slips down from the model-stand and puts a match to the little oil stove on the soap box in the corner, takes the eggs and milk and butter out of the cupboard, and sets about making oeufs brouillés, the favourite dish of half the studios in the world.

…They will sit down to lunch if there is a table, or if not, will walk about the room, eating the eggs with spoons out of saucers, and munching bread and butter…”

From: A Slender Reputation (1994), by Kathleen Hale:

“The studio which I would share with Frank…was a relic from before 1914, when Étaples was popular with artists…

…After a breakfast of good bitter French black coffee and freshly baked baguettes, our days started at eight a.m. with the arrival of a model, and continued, with a break for lunch of a fried egg, Camembert cheese, more bread and black coffee, until six-thirty or seven when we had supper – the same as lunch but with two fried eggs.”

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