a fried egg sandwich

Here’s something I wrote a year ago, in February, before the world changed forever. It’s looking back, not forward:

I’ve mentioned my good friend Andrew Simpson many times – sometimes revisiting our past, as students at Manchester Poly, as friends ever since which is a very long time, and as a historian and writer. Andrew has an actual publisher which publishes his excellent and varied books, and in fact his latest volume, The Ever Open Door‘, is available now!  In it Andrew tells the history of The Together Trust, a charity founded in Manchester in 1870, when Leonard Shaw and Richard Taylor started a ‘Night Refuge for Homeless Boys’ on Quay Street.

Andrew and I first met in the autumn of our first year at the Poly; we were both at the College of Commerce, the arts and business faculty. We actually literally bumped into each other as we rounded the end of a display case in W.H.Smith’s in Withington, but it took a little while before we got to know each other in a big group of friends who not only studied together but went out and about together too.

His blog post today was about how we most often started our college days:

When nostalgia is nothing more complicated than a sausage sandwich …….. Bert’s Café …… 1971


Bert’s Café which Andrew writes about was on Whitworth Street, which was just round the corner from college. Most mornings we would troop in – we must have gone in spring summer and autumn, but my memory has it as always winter and we were chilly, and tired from late nights studying – most likely at the local pub! Bert’s was a tiny café with oilcloth on the tables and we’d sit with mugs of tea or coffee – probably tea, and tuck into a sandwich. Andrew remembers sausage sandwiches, but I think I usually had a fried egg sandwich.

The bread was white, it was spread with margarine and the hot sausage/bacon/egg was slapped on one slice and covered with the other. I can’t now remember how much they cost, but I know we only ever had one item – sausage or egg, egg or bacon, we couldn’t afford both. There was red sauce or brown sauce, and I daresay there were other things on the menu, mostly fried, maybe sandwiches, maybe sausage rolls or pies, but I can only remember the hot breakfast sandwiches.

At home for breakfast we might have had a fried egg on toast, occasionally bacon and egg, even more occasionally – in fact so rarely I can’t remember, we might have had Powter’s sausages for breakfast. I remember my dad saying that when he had lived at home with his parents, they had sausages for breakfast on a Sunday and they were always served with a thin gravy. What the thin gravy was made from he had no idea, but it was sausages and thin gravy for breakfast. I didn’t ever have a fried egg sandwich as a young person living at home, and can’t remember bacon sandwiches either!

But Bert’s… and a fried egg sandwich in white bread, a great start to a student’s day!

Here is a link to Andrew Simpson’s book on the Together Trust:


My featured image shows what’s happening to the College of Commerce now


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