Anyway, I thought everyone in London was so fashionable. The girls are so pretty, so well-dressed, the boys are spiffy and for the most part, more into 'presenting' themselves than men seem over here. At any rate, the reason I bring it up is because of an old friend of mine. This friend and I have been in each other's lives off and on since university. I won't get into the details, but unfortunately, we're 'off' right now.
Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because I saw so many girls in London who reminded me of this friend when she was young. "S" was pretty and funny and full of energy (still is actually). Back then, her style was different from everyone else's, too. She was a bit of a rocker chick. Black leather jacket, long curly dark hair, lots of black eyeliner, skinny jeans. Since they weren't making skinny jeans back then, she'd actually bring her Levi's to a seamstress and have her take in the legs so the jeans would fit snugly all the way to the ankle - a unique look for the time. She also always wore flat suede boots, usually black, and had a certain swagger to her walk. Put it this way, you couldn't miss her amid all the backcombed, pastel-wearing Gogo's wannabe's back then. (Though to be honest, the chick on the far right up there is a pale imitation.)
Before I go on, I should say that S is about the world's biggest Stevie Nicks fan and I'm about the world's biggest Fleetwood Mac fan. Rumours (an impressive #26 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time) is my fave record. My desert island record. My you ask me what record I want to hear next and there's a 90% chance I'll say Rumours type-record. So, as you could imagine, S & I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac when we were in school. Usually consuming several drinks while getting ready to go out. ;)
Well, I couldn't believe all the girls in London who reminded me of S - swagger and all! Black leather jackets, skinny jeans, flat boots, smokey eyes and long hair are de rigeur lately and London was teeming with them. Student-age girls with that certain 'who-gives-a-f*ck, I'm young and cool and you're not' attitude. I kept thinking I'd see S pass by on the street and have to do a double-take. It always made me feel sort of ... well, wistful. I think about S often and miss her every day.
At any rate, one morning the hubs and I were heading out for a day of adventure. It was just before noon when we left Lady Lucy's Notting Hill flat. On the way to our tube station, Westbourne Park (I still can't get the sound of the female announcer's voice out of my head - Next stop, West-bone Pawk - so elegant), was a great pub called The Metropolitan. It was literally a two minute walk from our flat.
The Metro is a real authentic old 'local' with lots of wood, leather and low tables, but it also has fresh flowers on the bar and serves Dom Perignon. Since the place was usually full of soccer fans watching TV and/or the young after-work crowd drinking beer, I doubt much Dom was ordered, but still, you get my point. An authentic place with panache. As we were passing the Metro, the husband got a great idea: "Hey, how about a swifty?" he said.
Ahhh. The 'swifty.'
If you're not familiar with this great British tradition, Oxford defines it as 'an alcoholic beverage consumed swiftly.' Since it is something you're supposed to drink quickly, a swifty is usually a small drink. (i.e. a half-pint for the hubs and a small glass of wine for me - btw, most pubs and restos in London have at least two, sometimes three, different sizes of wine! The wine glasses are actually marked with different levels all the way to 250 ml! Very civilized!). Need I say there were a lot of swifties consumed on the trip? ;)
So, it was barely noon, but I'd been up since about six, I'd had breakfast and - well, I am Ms. Functional after all, so it's kind of hard to say 'no' to a swifty - especially a week or two away from a cleanse, so into the Metro we went.
The place wasn't empty - there was a family on the other side of the bar, Mum, Dad, grandparents, child in pram, everything - but it wasn't packed either, so we got a high table by the big window. It was a bright sunny day, if a little chilly, and the streets outside were dotted with people coming and going from the tube. At one point, the hubs realized he had forgotten his phone at the flat. He asked if I was OK sitting alone at the bar - and damn right I was - so he downed his pint and left me there while he dashed back to Lady Lucy's for the phone.
So there I am, sitting in an English pub, sipping a very decent white wine, on a sunny day, thinking, Ahhh. The swifty.
Ahhh. The swifty.
Ahhhhhhhhh, the ...
Stop it, Ms. Func! For crissakes!!
Sorry, sorry. Get carried away with the memories sometimes.
Anyway, it's the first time I've ever been in a bar alone. Restaurants sure, hotel lounges, absolutely. But a bona fide bar? Not that I know of - and this was definitely a bar, despite the flowers and the pram. ;) The music was kick-ass awesome too (many kudos to the management not only for their selection of wine, beer and their great service but their taste in tunes, too!) Wow! Just perfect going-on-noon swifty-type music. Mellow but cool.
I was sitting there sipping my wine, people watching, when another one of those girls in black leather jackets walked by the window. She had just the right amount of swagger in her step. Her hair flicked just the right way as she walked. I felt myself getting wistful again. Then the song changed and another one came on. Full, sweet - and very familiar.
It's not Stevie's song, it's Christine McVie's. But it's still Fleetwood Mac and it's still a Rumours tune. What timing! And God, it's a beautiful song - the lyrics are heart-melting. With that girl in the black leather jacket still fresh in my mind, tears started to flood my eyes. Especially when I heard the opening line, For you, there'll be no more crying ... OMG. I'm sitting alone in a pub in London crying? Really? I dug in my purse for a Kleenex. It wasn't depression, no. It was just this strong wave of emotion because I was so reminded of S.
The hubs came back to find me wiping my eyes. "You OK?" he asked worriedly. I didn't want to get into it for fear I'd get even more emotional, so I just motioned to the speakers. "Fleetwood Mac," I said. The song was just ending - that's how quickly he'd run - so he understood. Fleetwood Mac often affects me that way. I smiled and told him I was fine. Satisfied he wasn't going to have to deal with hormonal issues the entire day, he leaned forward on the table. For the first time, I noticed he was panting.
"I haven't had to run that far that fast this early in the morning with nothing but beer in my stomach since Frosh Week," he said gasping. That made me laugh. I finished my wine and we went out into the sunshine.
Anyway, I hope S is doing OK out there. I think she is. I sometimes check her Twitter and it's awesome. I hope she knows I'm OK too. And that some day we'll be listening to Fleetwood Mac together again. I'm sure of it.
btw our beleaguered mayor Rob Ford is checking into rehab for substance abuse issues. But more on that another day.
For now, here's Ms. McVie and her lovely Songbird.