It was the start of my second week in London, and I decided that I had spent quite enough time seeing the traditional London sights. With that thought in mind, I grabbed my day bag with all my essentials – phone, money, document copies, a flashlight, female emergency products, and my best friend, Canon, who never failed to capture the best spontaneous photos – and set out to wander the non-tourist city of London.
Several hours later found me surrounded by London brick in an average neighborhood with storefronts lining the streets. The air carried a musty mildew scent from the lingering morning mist and snapped playfully at my cheeks, running its breezy tendrils through my hair.
I chose a chilled metal bench to sit on near a classic, red telephone booth and bent at the waist to knead my sore calves, flexing my toes in my sneakers to ease the tingling.
Behind me, I heard a bell jangle and an exasperated huff.
Finished with my massage, I gingerly leaned back against the cool metal and unabashedly listened to the beautifully posh accents of the local women who now stood near the telephone booth.
“Mum, I don’t understand why we must go to Bill’s for lunch. There are places nearer home.” The young woman pursed her lips, adjusting her shopping bag around her purple fleece jacket sleeve.
“Because you fancy the fit, young charmer who works there!”
The young woman looked horrified by the older woman’s loud volume, glancing to the side and behind herself as if the man in question was hiding around the corner listening in.
“What? I don’t see why you’re fussing, dear. We can be very casual and pretend disinterest.” The older woman waved her gloved hand between them dismissively.
I ducked my head to hide my grin at the gleeful old woman’s suggestion.
The girl did not find it nearly so amusing. “Mum, you don’t know how to be subtle,” she said bluntly. “You’ll go in there winking and blatantly trying to leave us alone. He’ll think you’re a nutter and by association, me!”
“If he fancies you back, he won’t mind your nutty old mum.”
“He doesn’t even know me!”
“He never will with that attitude, my dear. How about I walk you in there, suddenly act knackered and skive off for a kip and some telly? Then you can chat him up without your dodgy mother around.”
At first the girl looked ready to argue, but then her face lit up. “Can you do that without looking at him or hinting at anything?”
The older woman nodded solemnly.
“Mum, if you would do that, it’d be brilliant of you!”
I watched the two women stroll, arm-in-arm, down the walk and across the street to Bill’s. A few minutes later, the older woman trotted back out cackling happily and practically skipped down the street away from me, her telephone-booth red sneakers flashing a silver Nike logo at passersby.
Grinning at my silly eavesdropping, I finally stood and then shifted uncomfortably. The seat made my bottom numb! I could use a good midday meal and a hot cuppa to warm me up, I thought.
Suddenly inspired and feeling more than a little devious, I decided to catch my lunch at that quaint restaurant down the street with a sign over the door that read: Bill’s.