the opening of the 2nd Hummingbird Bakery branch in London last year started my wild anticipation that i cant help but to keep my hands from my Fendi luggage bag and drag my ex-boyfriend's ass from his endless paper work and his consumed frantic mind, like he was trying to cure cancer or something, and got the cheapest ticket to Heathrow.
but that wasn't the only reason i wanted to go to London...
i met a guy the last time i've been to London while i was waiting for my ex-boyfriend to come back from a 5-day business trip to Manchester so I had to think of something that I could do so as not to rot inside the Arosfa Hotel for the next 5-days (if i were even there today, it would blow my brains out because i could clearly remember that it was a non-smoking hotel where a small part of London's fresh air still lingers... who cares about fresh air??? i need a puff!!! right now!!!)
i remember when my ex and i got out of the cab from Heathrow and went straight to Arosfa (my ex doesn't waste time... he already had everything planned... even my ever so boring 5-day wait...) We stayed in a single room, in which the bed seem to be really just for one person, as what was planned (ARGH!!!) which only costs us 55/night. We unpacked our things and early the next day he got straight to the airport to take the first flight to Manchester.
so i found myself in a small room... alone... and just decided to take a long bath to make time run a bit faster... after my 2 hour bath i realized it was only 10 in the morning... i couldn't help but to pick myself up from that miserable state and thought of going around Bloomsbury.
just as i stepped out of the hotel i felt my stomach rumbling, so i walked the short length of Gower street then around Chenies until i found the very first Tube in London that i was sure i was about to ride...
i stepped right in the subway and popped up the tickets my ex bought for us the moment we stepped out of the airport (talk about OCD!), i remembered that i took the subway near Goodge Street that was bound South of London.
i haven't had the feel of the ride when i noticed a guy in a pale blue sweatshirt, ragged blue jeans and worn out sneakers was staring at me. i was standing at the corner near the service entrance and he was sitting a couple of feet directly across me. he had deep blue eyes and dark blonde hair. he had a feel of a pure Englishman if it were not for the clothes that he's in.
he looked at me straight on and made sure i felt that there wasn't anybody he was looking at. i tried looking in another direction but his piercing stare just kept on tapping my peripheral view. scary thoughts rambled in my head and i kept on repeating in my mind that taking the tube all by myself was a bad idea.
the next stop seem to be a light at the end of a tunnel and my instinct told me to get off as fast as i could. the moment i stepped off the tube and on the platform. it was an intersection stop so i got in the other tube where i have no idea where its heading. i know that i'm gonna hate myself again for getting in another train, but might as well be out of harms way.
"Oxford Circus!" was the next stop that i heard from the speakers just above me, i thought ill just be picking out a nice name and get off at that station...
Bond Street... Marble Arch... Lancaster Gate... Queensway...
Notting Hill Gate...
the sound of the next stop sounded like ive heard it from some movie before so i decided to pick this one out and see whats outside this station. i went out for real air and saw myself in a normal street with rows of shops and residences that have the same architectural facade. different shades of pale colors are the only distinction of each establishment.
i turned to a street called Portobello Road which immediately transported me to a Mary Poppins theme place. i wished i brought with me an umbrella just to complete the aura.
people started to crowd most of the length of the road and i finally saw something i could do in London that i am certainly good at. SHOPPING!!!
there seem to be a market that stretches way to the end of the road. fresh meat are piled and hanged on little stalls to my left and right. Second-hand clothes with designer garments and vintage denim and leather line in a row at boutiques and there are food stalls with great bread and cheese, but the one that attracted me most are the antiques, or they seem to look antique, that are for sale.
there's this one specific shop that caught my eye as its sign was a clay or ceramic like teapot hanging in front of its door entrance. i went in and found myself in the middle of the most number of antiques i've seen in my entire life. it felt like i just came out of a time machine.
there were china porcelains with gold and silver engravings hanging on the wall. little jars and vases are lined up in a row under the paintings that hanged on the one wide yellowing wall. i could see vintage clothes on every corner that hangers could fit and brilliant chandeliers hovered on top of me. there were eerie looking busts, old wooden cabinets, animal wood carvings of pigeons, tortoises and cats, heavy wooden music boxes, a clock in a shape of an 6 pointed star hanging at the wall at the back of the cash register and low lighted lamps and shades that gave effect of age and authenticity.
but from all those remarkable items that i could have purchased i was intimately interested at the collection of old jewelry displayed inside a glass locker at the left corner of the store. there was this snake-like gold bracelet that has lost its shine because of age that i became infatuated with.
i asked the store merchant if i could take a look at the item and i immediately tried it on. it was perfect and when i glanced at its price tag i trembled a bit, poutted with disappointment and handed it back to the merchant.
"its a bit too expensive for me." i said and gave out a grin that was a mixture of disappointment and anticipation. the little trinket costs more than my whole stay here in London.
then a man just popped out from somewhere glided out behind me held my wrist just as im about to give back the bracelet to the merchant.
"i see you haven't been in these places before?" his question sounded like it was more of what he thought and not that he wanted answer for it. "bargaining is one thing you could exhaust here in Kensington."
i looked at his hand and my sight crawled from his pale blue sweatshirt to his deep blue eyes. it was the man from the train. i didn't move away from his grip as i was deep in my thoughts of figuring out how he managed to follow me here.
"my kind sir, maybe you could give this to my friend for 400 pounds" he magically pulled a credit card out of his sleeves and pushed it towards the counter with his left hand while his right still had the steady grip on my wrist.
the merchant frowned but took the card and was about to punched in the closed purchase.
"im sorry but i was just looking around. i wasn't really planning on buying anything." i crammed each word out of my mouth and used what little i learned from my aikido class and managed to get out from his grip.
"well, i was planning to buy that one for you." he stared at me like he was trying to tell me something. i stared back with a big question mark on my face and time seem to pass by so fast that the little bracelet was ready in a little box and was stuffed in a tiny paper bag.
"are you new here?" the tall blonde man asked me. i tried to look for a little hesitation from all his extravagant gesture but failed to find any.
"yes, just on vacation." i answered like a robot. "im sorry but who the hell are you?"
the question came out my mouth in the most foreign way he could ever get and i was hoping that he already got the idea that im just a tourist and wish he hates tourists from Asia.
"i never heard someone who could talk that fast. are you Australian?" he asked me back.
"no, i'm Asian. i'm sorry to be rude but i was just looking around and was really going to grab breakfast. i don't want to get into your morning." i said with a subtle sarcasm of wanting to be alone. " so if you don't mind ill be on my way."
"i know a great patisserie around the corner. its actually a french bakery lost in the middle of London, but there's a touch of UK in it. i think you'll like it" he pushed that insistent phrase that i realized that it wouldn't really hurt to go around London with a tour guide.
"you got me. ok. but first, whats your name and how come you've been following me around?" i demanded. " i saw you in the train and now you just happen to pop out from nowhere."
"im william." he held out his hand to shake mine and i gave him my ice cold palm." you really dont seem to like the weather here. i could imagine how much nice the weather is in the tropics."
we walked slowly towards that breakfast place he was talking about while i try to get the most out of my probing questions.
"so what do you do? where are you from here?" i thought the more questions i ask the more freaked out he will be.
"im just a simple IT guy here. i work with one of the .coms website. i live around the west side of central london. not far from here." he answered back but dosnt seem to be interested in anything about me.
we arrived in a place called The Hummingbird Bakery and with the looks of the place, i already knew that this breakfast is going to be a hefty one. The whole place was pink and when i got in i was flooded with baby colors. Blues and Reds and Yellows and a lot of Pink. I automatically remembered my boyfriend who was away for work and how much i wish that we shared this breakfast together, but all i got is this stranger that is getting stranger by the minute.
i ordered a banana cream pie and coffee and william just got himself a latte. by now i hurriedly went to the cash register to pay for our bill. he smiled and chuckled a bit when he saw me racing towards the end of the counter.
"you're funny guy. i havent got your name" that was the start of his endless questions the whole time we were having breakfast.
"im damianne. i came here with my boyfriend here in but he had some business in Manchester so i just decided to stay here rather than bore myself there." that sounded more that what he asked me but i figured maybe he would go away if he knows that i have a boyfriend.
"thats not so nice of him. leaving you here all alone. well, at least you get to go anywhere you want." he just kept that smile hanging over his face like he wanted to tell me something.
we talked about work. We talked about food. We talked about Manila and London. We talked for almost 2 hours and i realized that its almost noon.
"It has been a wonderful morning with you damianne. But i have to go now. Im meeting somebody for lunch." He stood up towering everybody in the bakery and scooped his bag and coat and stretched his hands towards me. I stood up realizing how pathetic my height is around him and compensated by shaking his hands with a tight grip.
I stayed for another round of those pies and added a milk shake with it. I promised myself that ill skipped lunch with a big breakfast that i had. I suddenly realized that all the while that i was alone there the little paper bag with the gold trinket was just sitting on the chair where william was seated a while ago.
I blew a deep sigh but was really thinking of running after william but i guess im not too familiar of the place and i don't want to bump with another stranger.
I went back to my hotel room and decided to wait for the next four days for my boyfriend to return. It was boring but i'd rather not get into another scne like that and inasmuch as i wanted to give the bracelet back to william i don't think its right if i would now be the one stalking him.
The rest of our trip to London ended up being nice and what i expected. When my boyfriend got back we stayed for another 2 days to go around and take pictures everywhere. I wore the bracelet the whole time we were going around London and my boyfriend doesnt seem to notice it was new.
A few days after we returned back in Manila, my boyfriend asked me about some misplaced calling card that he wasnt familiar with and that was out of his stack of calling cards.
"Do you know anybody who's a William Beckford?" he asked me while we were having dinner."I found this calling card from our luggages back in London and its in one of this little paper bag.
"Oh i guess thats the calling card of the shop where i got this bracelet i bought when you were away for work." i flinched a bit while trying to digest dinner.
"Hmmm... so you went around to shop without me?" he made a frown with his cute face and pinched my arm. "so what else did you see when i was away?"
"thats about it. i was kinda scared to go around that i might get lost or something." i said
"or something? hmmm... funny but the card says that william is working for a pornsite in london..." he said while putting a funny look on his face
"really??? hmmmm... maybe they put it in the bag as a flyer..." i answered back.
my boyfriend might have more questions in his head but after hearing that i've got all my questions answered...
Tags: damianne, gay, london, portobello road, hummingbird bakery, arosfa