Waiting for the bus
There is a bus stop just outside my front door. Normally I walk to the train station, which is maybe on a bad day– a ten-minute walk. Certainly not worth the £1.00 the bus costs to end up in the same place. However today, I was just being lazy. It was that sort of day. The house locked, pound coin in hand, I stepped out into one of those wonderful winter days, where there is no snow or rain, not a cloud in the sky, and the air crisp.
I was wearing my brand-new Cos Sweater. My last trip to Liberty in London had been a triumph, and I came home with the softest orangey coloured cashmere jumper with lovely little thumb holes. The jumper sleeves stuck out from the edge of my camel coat’s arm sleeves, visible for all to see today!
I was setting out for lunch with the girls at Liberty’s today. Arthur Liberty in 1875 started his own shop with a loan from his future father in law for £2,000, a massive amount of money back then. Liberty on Regent Street, the main entrance located on Great Marlborough Street, opened selling exotic fabrics and objets d’art from Japan and the Far East. I love climbing the dark wood stairs just to go to the top floor and work my way back down. The building is a magnificent Tudor building, constructed from the timbers of two ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. The shop was built at the height of the Tudor Revival period in England. Apparently, Arthur Liberty wanted to create the feeling that you were walking around your own home. Rooms led into other rooms very much like your own house. It does have a homey feel to it, although far more posh than mine could ever hope for!
Liberty’s has this amazing tea room. Afternoon tea today was planned for the Champagne Tea Service, a dazzling array of finger sandwiches, pastries, fruit scones, Cornish clotted cream, and not to forget–the champers. (I really should be walking instead of riding the bus!)
Two elderly women, wearing lovely Sari’s approached the bus stop. One in a delicate gold sari and the other in purple walked up to wait for the bus. We said the good morning. They kept staring at me. I at their gorgeous dresses, wondering how on earth did they keep warm? Am I a wimp, fully decked out in a warm coat, my lovely new cashmere jumper underneath whilst they head off to town in shimmering silk with just a thin wool jumper for protection?
We live in the same neighbourhood and these two elderly women often take the bus outside my door. They know I live in the house with the net curtains that need sorting out. (I’ll get around to it one of these days.)
The woman in gold, touched my arm.
‘You live in that house?” she nodded in the direction of my front door,
“Yes,” I answered, wondering what she needed.
The other woman, a wisp of her grey hair blew in the breeze, also touched my arm tenderly. They stood on both sides of me now. I was worried, had I said something wrong the other day? When did I last see these two sisters? My mind drew a blank.
She smiled slightly before saying, “We can help you, dearie.”
I was totally puzzled. Apparently the expression on my face told all that needed to be said.
The woman in gold thoughtfully rubbed the thumb holes in my new jumper.
“This will only take a few minutes to fix. We’ll come over tomorrow. I’ll mend this for you, right away.”
“I bought it like this.” I stumbled over my words, wanting to add in that I had paid jolly good money for those holes.
They looked at each other puzzled and alarmed. The one sister, shook her head in dismay and the other took charge of me. Just as quickly as the look of concern flooded over her face, an expression of pity replaced it, she patted my arm, saying, “Don’t worry dear. It won’t take long. You don’t have to pay anything. It’s okay. We understand.”
The bus pulled up. I got on and sat down. They sat in the seat in front of me, turned around and smiled, “Tomorrow, dearie, are you home?”
“Really, it’s quite all right. I like it like this.”
That might have been the wrong thing to say. Before that statement, I was just in a bad way, down on my luck, but now, I was simply mad. Why would anyone sane wear clothing with holes and actually admit to buying it? They looked at me in stunned silence for a moment and then turned away from me, chattering to each other about the mad woman who wears in public, clothing with holes!
I had to laugh, here I was thinking I was so smart-looking and those two old dears thought I was too poor to afford a new jumper and too proud to admit it! I would never have the courage to tell them that even if the jumper had been riddled with moth bites, I would have no idea how to mend the jumper. I was not going to go down that road!
My lovely jumper with the thumb holes had a short life. I washed it per directions, and took it out the washer and wanted to cry! It wouldn’t even fit a ten-year old child! On the positive side of this tragedy, I did manage to escape a sewing lesson!