It was a miserable day in Walham Green, gloomy and wind-lashed and rain-soaked, and it seemed every pedestrian for miles had taken shelter in this Lyons Tea Room. The windows streamed with condensation, and the air was thick with hot breath and the smell of damp wool and camphor and boiled mutton. I'd been lucky to get a table to myself, and I was keeping it to myself, spreading out my legs and seeing off with a cold stare any customer who dared to approach. Selfish of me, perhaps, but I was on Queen's business and expecting a guest. The waitress, a thin, nervous woman in her thirties, looked worn-out and listless, much like the paper garlands that still festooned the place three weeks after Christmas. She could barely move between the tables, the place was so packed with customers and their sodden overcoats and dripping umbrellas. Stopping by my table she topped up my cup hastily, slopping tea into the saucer, but I made no remarks. There are times when it serves to make a scene and times to bite your tongue.
- From M, King's Bodyguard: A Novel by Niall Leonard