London. London Town. Which is proudly the place I call my home. Everyday is like a new adventure here. Nothing ever seems to become mediocre, well at least, I don't think so. I love the quick pace of people filing down the street to get to their unknown location. The exciting sound of sirens whizzing past you on the roads, not knowing if they are going to catch a criminal or stop a bank heist (though mostly it was neither!) There always seemed to be a distinct smog in the air, Like all the pollution was making a barricade to stop the sun from truly shining down onto the streets. But for all its faults I loved it like it belonged to me. I made my way down the busy streets that were already full of tourists wanting to get to Big Ben before they presumed other tourists would, and I gave them a sincere smile as they looked up from the maps they were holding. It reminded me of that time Joey from friends "stepped" into his map so he could get a better feel of where he was in the city. Truth be told, I think I could navigate my way around here blindfolded. I walk into the bakery and already I can see a cloud of flour as Mrs Maddock starts to mould the dough
'Morning Mrs M' I shut the counter door behind me and I'm greeted by her warm smile
'Morning Sam. Been shopping already?' She looks down at my plastic carrier bag and I fish the contents out of it to show her
'The charity shop are selling off DVDs for fifty pence, can you believe it? I've got an affair to Remember, Notting hill as Richard accidentally trod on mine, Meet me in St. Louis, White Christmas and Easter parade. I'm going back later as I only had some change on me'
She laughs but not in a malicious way, it was in the kind tone she reserved for me 'I do think it's odd Sam, that a young girl like you wants to watch films that are older than her grandparents. Mind you, beats watching films that have guns in them, or -'
'Sex' Mr M finishes off his wife's sentence as he steps out from the back of the shop. He's holding a tray of cupcakes that still need icing and I bend down to inhale the smell of the freshly baked goodies
'George, please don't say that in front of Sam!'
'What? I'm sure she's heard that word before. She's nineteen not nine! I for one applaud you for liking the classics. Did you watch a star is born?'
I put my apron on and tie my blonde hair into a loose bun 'I did! Judy Garland was amazing in it! I much prefer it to the remake. It was so much more ... Raw. I cried for an hour solidly after'
'Ha! Knew you would like it! Don't understand why there has to be remakes of movies. If it's that good they think people would want to watch it they should just promote the original bloody film'
I nod at his enthusiasm on this subject before grabbing my icing bag and set about decorating the cake that is being picked up tonight ready for a wedding tomorrow.
Icing cakes isn't exactly what I thought I would be doing. I always thought I would be an actress but when that didn't work out thanks to my nerves I thought maybe a director? But I knew I wasn't a Spielberg in the making and then when my father went on a self destruct mission I dropped out of school at sixteen as someone needed to keep a roof over our heads. I had trawled the streets of London for two whole days but no one would hire me. I had no qualifications and couldn't work in a bar as I was too young. I had almost given up when I saw the sign in the bakery window for an apprentice and the rest they say is history. Mr and Mrs M are family to me without the blood ties. They feel warm and familiar and the bakery became my little slice of safe haven. Mrs M has greying hair and she reminds me of what Mrs Potts looked like in beauty and the beast ... When she wasn't a teapot of course! Mr M is a foot taller than her and he dyes his greying hair black (Although no one points that out, obviously!) he tells me all the time that he looked like Robert Redford when he was younger, I can't see it but the crinkles around his warm blue eyes indicate that yes, I can imagine he was the quite the catch in his youth. They eloped and married when Mrs M was Seventeen and Mr M was twenty one (quite the scandal at the time they told me) but forty five years later they are still blissfully happy and running the bakery gives them purpose that keeps them young and never work shy.
At four forty five Mrs M lets me go and she slides five pounds into the palm of my hand 'go buy some DVDs love' she tells me, and I do exactly that. I also do a quick shop around the heaving supermarket and then start to make the walk home reasoning with myself that it was better than trying to get on a bus that is always so busy you have to cram into it like a can of sardines. The walk will take me thirty minutes so I take out my phone and dial the number I call at least five times a day
I roll my eyes and somehow contain my sigh so it doesn't leave my lips 'hello Joy, is my dad home?' It seems like a ridiculous question to ask, of course he will be home. He never leaves the place! I hear her mutter something and I can imagine dads face whilst taking hold of the receiver
'Hey love' I wanted so much for his voice to be clear but I can hear the faint slur that a bottle of Jack Daniels brings
'Hey dad, you ok?'
I hear his finger nails scratch against his stubble and now I wish I would have gone over to see him, and maybe have taken a razor with me
'Yeah, I'm alright. Just tired' I wasn't sure how a forty year old man who did nothing all day but drank could be tired?
'I was thinking, I could come over at around seven? The AA meeting doesn't start until eight, we could take a slow walk over to the church hall -'
'Tomorrow maybe? Sam I've got to go. Love you kid' and with that he ends the call, and Im left with a half promise that maybe tomorrow could be the day he would start AA. But who was I kidding? He had been saying "maybe" now for five years and every time, there was a small part of me that actually believed that maybe yes, tomorrow would be that day.
I pass the local estate and ignore the group of teens that shout 'alright darling, come have a drink with us' I almost feel like lecturing them for standing on street corners and wasting their evenings by getting drunk but I know how condescending that would be, and also I don't know anything about their circumstances. Maybe this is the only way they find their escape? or maybe they are just being typical teens!
Soon enough the houses start to become lighter, painted in pretty pastel colours that have hanging baskets decorating the stone. Sometimes when I walk along this street I have to pinch myself knowing I live on the good side of the city. If it wasn't for Richard (and a lump sum of my mothers guilt money) I know there's a chance I could have been one of those kids getting drunk, the only difference is I wouldn't be doing it on street corners, I would probably be sharing a bottle of jack with my dad.
As I take the final turn into our road I pick up the pace a little. A moving van is parked next to our house and boxes are being taken out of it and up to the house that has been empty for three months. I pat down my pencil skirt, getting rid of any flour that might be remaining and adjust my coat around me. It's always best to make a good first impression, I should know. It's probably paranoia but sometimes I see the perfectly manicured wives who live nearby with their immaculate hair and two seater sports cars looking at me and silently thinking 'how can she afford to live here?' sometimes I ask myself the same question. That's why I try and act older than I am. Maybe someone important who has a fabulous job in the city that makes a tremendous amount of money. Not just a girl that works in a little bakery just off the high street who barely makes minimum wage (times are hard for the bakery thanks to supermarkets churning out poorly made apple pies. Seems people prefer value over great taste)
As I push open our little black steel gate I try and act as nonchalant as possible but as I look over I can only see the removal men anyway. I climb the four steps it takes to get to our heavy navy front door and look through my bag for my keys
'Woah, woah woah. Mate be careful with that! It's a vintage fender'
Someone's voice startles me and I nearly drop my bag. I watch the person in question run down to the van and take the guitar from a young lad who I presume hasn't been doing this job for long. Black boots hit off the steps and I smile as politely as I can without looking like some sort of crazy person
'Hello' green eyes meet mine and at first they aren't friendly. Just really pissed off 'I'm Sam. I live here' I gesture to the door, suddenly aware I seem like a step ford wife 'I guess we're neighbours?' I hold out my hand and the stranger looks at it like I'm holding out a wet fish. He hesitates and then holds his guitar in his other hand before pressing his palm into mine
'Matthew' he shakes my hand once and let's go
'Are you moving in alone?' These houses all have four bedrooms and it seems awfully big for one person to be living in. I can see I'm clearly annoying him as he makes no effort to hide his annoyed sigh
'No' he walks to the door and I roll my eyes. Well that went well. I put my key into the lock when I hear his voice again
'You won't have to nag me about the noise, we'll keep it down' and with that, he went inside.