I was, very nearly, the Long Room’s last customer.
There I was, on Tuesday, walking through the entrance to the place, and there was a notice pinned to the door, which I didn’t read properly. Inside, a couple were sitting down by the window, and a waiter was bringing them lunch. The manager approached me and said that he was sorry, but he couldn’t serve me. The place had just closed down, and that was that.
‘Just a drink,’ I said.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said.
It took a while for the whole thing to register. This wasn’t a matter of closing for a summer break, or closing for refurbishment. The place was actually closing – had, presumably, officially closed between the time the couple at the window table ordered their food – eggs Benedict, I think – and the moment I walked in the door.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said.
I tried to imagine the scenes in the kitchen. There must have been a moment, when the eggs were cracked, when there was still some hope, however remote. Then there must have been a call, like the Governor’s call to a Death Row lawyer, a final, incontrovertible ‘no.’ Then the final meal is served. Then it’s curtains.
The problem with great places, of course, is usually that they stop being great, or they stop altogether. What can I say? Thank you, I suppose. WL

Why the Long face? Because Lewes’ coolest café has shut
down, that’s why