Street corner florists were selling their red roses like hot cakes. Business relating to the heart was extra brisk, especially as the day drew to a close. People were extra loving holding hands extra tight. Those saying goodbye by the roadside, by the station, anywhere, took extra lingering moments before the final farewell. Those walking back alone too were clutching tight their red or yellow roses. And I, well, I held on tight to my new book Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters that I just bought at Borders, as I made my way to Selfridges to meet my date.
It was as if the street was painted red – red hearts on balloons, red hearts on lingeries, on bedsheets displayed on beds in shop windows everywhere. And Selfridges is certainly the place you’d want to be if you were searching something for that special someone.
But I wasn’t searching for anything of that kind. I was searching for my date and while waiting by the escalator, I just watched people to see how love that was in the air was affecting them.
The young ones did it everywhere; gazing into each other’s eyes as they sipped their latte, holding hands across the table, over their half eaten muffins. Old couples, with matching silver hair walked contentedly, arms linking, fingers touching. Then my eyes were drawn to one elderly Malay gentleman; a well known face with that unmistakeable mop of grey hair that is somewhat thinning. Two steps ahead of him was a young leggy beauty with long chestnut hair. No, it couldn’t be, I dismissed the thought.
When my date arrived, we sat at the table for two and ordered our lattes and Earl Grey. It was the second day in a row that I sat there in the same café by the escalator at Selfridges sipping Earl Grey, but with a different date. The waiter gave me a smile of recognition as he offered me the menu. And as I had my last sip, the elderly Malay gentleman walked past our café again, but this time with the leggy beauty striding by his side, clutching something in that well known Selfridges’ carrier bag. Just let us say, she must be a niece or a distant relative.
My head was full of these encounters as I made my way past the chocolate bars packed with people buying presents for their sweet tooth lovers. I have lost count the number of times that I spotted familiar faces walking hand in hand with another who is not the one that I am more familiar with. How many times have I had to duck into a corner or cross the road to avoid embarrassing situations and awkward, hesitant introductions.
So why London when London is crawling with people who are bound to know you? And why not some other cities like Milan, New York or even Timbuktoo where no one would know you from Adam. Oh well, I was by then debating with myself and was already attracting curious glances from other shoppers.
It was choc-a-bloc at the florist in Selfridges. People were just grabbing what’s left rather than leave empty handed. The last bunch of red roses that I received was some months ago in Paris, and it is safe for you to assume that it wasn’t from my other half who believes you can’t eat roses. But, yes, Paris is the place to be now – the city where love is forever in the air.
It was there that I was swept off my feet by a Frenchman, in full glare of other tourists and witnessed by the towering Eiffel Tower. And before you let your mind roam, let me explain. I was doing my piece to camera, when my camerawoman said something to my soundman in French. He then came over on the pretext of adjusting my microphone and then, voila, swept me off my feet and the moment was forever captured on tape as evidence of my ‘tryst’ in Paris!
Oh well, I remedied that situation a year later by spending 14th February, with my other half, up the Eiffel Tower, shivering in the cold air. It wasn’t a romantic moment, just a trip up the tower for the sake of taking photographs and telling people yes, we were up there.
So, with such thoughts in my mind, I picked my way to the other side of Selfridges where business was less brisk at that hour. I suddenly knew what I wanted for my other half that would permanently embed me in his heart; two fat mackerels, one fated to be grilled and to be accompanied by air asam, made to his liking.
As if on cue, the song " I know him so well" by Elaine Paige played in my mind.
Kak Teh's other Roseless Moments:
Reminiscence Of An Incurable Old Romantic
Love in the Autumn Years I