In the cafe...
Do you know a cafe or somewhere else which has exceptional service? Tell Mercury Man

After a winning start to the new year (courtesy of a nice result in yesterday’s 12.20 at Hereford), 853 special columnist and turf investment advisor MERCURY MAN is in a chipper mood – and wants to praise people. Can you help him?

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Right, okay, here we are then – 2018. And the question is: What are we going to do about it?

Doing nothing, as you very well know, is not an option around here. We don’t sit back; we don’t park buses. Bland ain’t grand. We go for it. We’re venturesome.

But don’t get us wrong, either. We’ve got nothing against those who take naturally to the Game of Groans and find some kind of psychological comfort with the Goddess of Gloom. But it’s alright, ma, if we can’t please ‘em (to quote a phrase).

So – something positive to aim for in 2018? Something we can trumpet? Something we can record and share.

I know, let’s do an Ian Dury and find some more reasons to be cheerful. They’re everywhere. All we have to do is look. Seek and we shall find. Then record it through our very own Mercury Man.

What I want you to do is let me know about the places in Greenwich and across SE London where there’s always a warm welcome. Where, more importantly, the people are always bright and helpful. You know, they make you feel better the moment you meet ’em.

We’ll name names if they agree and, who knows, we might even organise tea and biscuits around, say, late spring and hand over a simple certificate. The MMPPA (Mercury Man People Person Award) is as good as any.

Lee station
You’ll find helpful service at Lee station…

Tell you what, I’ll start the ball rolling (Thought you might – Ed). There’s a lovely old cove with a magnificent white beard who works at Lee railway station. You might have come across him. Couldn’t be more cheerful and helpful, no matter how many or how complicated the requests are.

“Lewisham? Quicker to catch the next one to Hither Green. Over the bridge to platform three. 9.49. Gets in at 53.”

David at Lee station
Paul at Lee station – looking a little surprised at the news (I’ll take the photos next time – Ed)

The man’s a kohinoor. What I’ll do is, I’ll pop in and tell him he’s in line for the MMPPA and see what he says. We’ll have to rustle up the certificates for him and the others we find, but we can sort that out later, get a local sponsor or whatever.

Got anyone in mind yourself after listening to all that? Then just drop me a line at mercuryman.853[at] and I or a member of my team (Mrs MM) will visit the place – be it shop, office, café, pub, club, restaurant, library, whatever – and check out the good fellows and/or fellowesses.

Totally icognito, of course. I’ll leave the hat off.

And how about this? He doesn’t know it yet but I’ve got the perfect person to MC the tea and biscuits. His name is Steve Sutherland. You’ve heard of the Constant Gardener, well, “Suthers” is the Perennial Prefect. He was always going to be a governor at his old primary school – Conway in Plumstead – and has a CV to make Trump cry “fake!”.

Steve Sutherland
The master MC himself, Steve Sutherland

Commercial manager at Charlton Athletic; Charlton Chat presenter on RTM Radio; star of BBC2’s Turning the Tables documentary; marketing executive of the Football League; joint CEO of Swindon Town; lead singer/guitarist with punk band The Dishevelled Devils.

I made that last one up but you get the picture, and if Joanna Lumley fails to make the Bafta presentations with a Lumley tummy you could get Steve in at a moment’s notice and a 10-minute briefing, confident he’d fill the bill with aplomb – the Incomparable Compere.

Hold on a minute… just had a call from upstairs where Darryl is trying to get the 853 neon sign working again. How I love that sign, the gallant glow of public service journalism at its best. Sometimes I think – (Get on with it! Ed).

Sorry… Darryl’s just told me about a singing bus driver who makes passengers’ days. Looks a cert for an MMPPA. Apparently this exceptional chap has been around for a few years and sang festive songs behind the wheel of his 380 in Charlton on Christmas Eve, followed by gospel numbers on the 124 in Catford on New Year’s Eve. Wonder if he knows any Sensational Alex Harvey Band numbers?

Darryl, being the special scribe he is, even found our man on YouTube belting out tunes on the 47!

All we’ve got to do is track him down (any help there welcomed!) and slip him a certificate. Darryl emailed: “Wouldn’t it be great if he got some recognition for making people smile?”

The whole point, Darryl, the whole point! (Enough about me – Ed) So let’s get working on it straight away. Let’s find reasons to be cheerful and spread the jocundity no matter how hard the misery guts try to drag us down.

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Just one tiny twist on the epigenetics, if that’s word. I won’t actually be able to make the tea and biscuits myself because, officially, I don’t exist. I’m what’s known as an aMalgaM. But, rest assured, I’ll be there in spirit…

Who is your favourite SE London people person? Drop Mercury Man a line at mercuryman.853[at] or leave a comment below.

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