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Part 9. A Pewter Tankard, Some Silver Sugar Tongs and a Meeting

Portobello Road

Saturday afternoon

Carmen, Ana, Calum and Harry

CARMEN:  I think it’s worked.  You should have seen Maria’s face.  She was thoughtful, very, very thoughtful!

CALUM:    So was Olly.  In fact, he nearly choked on his Guinness!  When we left, he looked very pensive indeed.

HARRY:     So, what are they doing now?

CARMEN:  If the spell has really taken effect, they’ll be going round and round in circles all over London looking for each other.   Anyway, we can’t do any more.  We have done our bit, and we’ll just have to see how the day turns out.  It’s Saturday, so let’s go to Portobello Road.  I want to see the market.

ANA:           You know, I think I’d rather be running round London looking for someone I’m in love with than going shopping! In some ways I envy Maria! Still, there we are. So, what do they sell in Portobello Road?

HARRY:     What don’t they sell, you mean.  They sell everything from barometers to teddy bears and from binoculars to walking sticks.   On Saturdays Portobello Road is the antiques centre of the world!

ANA:          Will they be open now?

CALUM:    Of course, they’ll be open!  They open at 5.30 in the morning, and they close around 5 in the afternoon.  The early bird catches the worm!

ANA:           Pardon?
CALUM:    The early bird catches the worm!

ANA:         What have worms got to do with it?  

HARRY:     The people who get there first find the best bargains!

CARMEN:  Well, we’re not early birds.   

CALUM:    That doesn’t matter.  There’ll still be loads to see, loads to haggle over, and loads to buy! 

ANA:           How do we get there?

HARRY:     The tube is best.  We can go from Russell Square up to Kings Cross.  That’s one stop.  Then we change there and get the Circle Line westwards.  We stay on the Circle Line until we come to Notting Hill Gate.

ANA:          That means nothing to me.  You can keep your circles and your gates!  Just take us there.

They took the tube and arrived at Notting Hill Gate.  Then they followed the crowds walking slowly to Portobello Road.

ANA:           There are so many people here!  Are they all interested in antiques?

CALUM:    Most of them are, but some come just to have a look round and enjoy the atmosphere.  Now, I want to look at some pewter. I collect pewter drinking tankards.

ANA:           Pewter?  What’s pewter?

CALUM:    It’s a dull grey metal.  It’s not expensive, and it used to be called “poor man’s silver”.  You know when you go to a pub today, they serve you beer in a glass.  Well, in Dickens’ time they didn’t use glasses, they used pewter!

CARMEN:  How big is your collection?

CALUM:    I’ve only got three!  But you have to start somewhere!  The great thing in life is to start. Once you’ve done that, everything falls into place. Perhaps I’ll get another tankard today.  Then I’ll have…

CARMEN:  Four!  Well, I’d like to look at some silver.  I want a present for my mother.  It’s her birthday next week.  What do you suggest?

CALUM:    How about some sugar tongs?

ANA:           Sugar tongs?

CARMEN:  What on earth will my mother in Madrid do with sugar tongs?

CALUM:    Yes, well.  Anyway, when people here used to have afternoon tea in style, you used sugar tongs to pick up the sugar cubes! Those were the days!  I can remember my grandmother having proper afternoon teas.  The tea set was white with red roses and made of a delicate bone china!  The tea pot was the same.  The teaspoons were silver and so were the sugar tongs!

ANA:           And today?

HARRY:     Today we all drink tea from a mug, and all the old tea sets are in the antique shops!

CARMEN:  Sugar tongs will be expensive, though, won’t they?

CALUM:    It all depends.  If they are solid silver, yes.

CARMEN:  Here’s a stall selling silver.  Let’s try it out.  Here’s a coffee pot, and the label says it’s silver.

CALUM:    And here are the marks.  If it has a lion, it’s silver.

ANA:           I can’t see a lion.

HARRY:     Here, look!

ANA:           Ah yes, but it’s tiny!

CARMEN: (To Calum) How much do you think it is?

CALUM:    I’ve no idea.  (To the stallholder, holding up the coffee pot) How much is it?

STALLHOLDER: Well, it’s a beautiful piece, and it’s solid silver.  You can see the lion.

CALUM:    So, it’s not cheap?

STALLHOLDER: It’s £550 and a bargain at the price!

CALUM:    Right. I think we’ll look at something else.  Do you have any sugar tongs?

Finally, Carmen bought some silver-plated sugar tongs for £18.50, and later Calum got a small pewter tankard for £12.  Then they went to a stall which sold antique prints and maps.

HARRY:     Look here’s a print of London.

ANA:          That’s really nice.  You can see the Tower and the river.  How much is it?

HARRY:     Just a moment.  Yes, here’s the price.  It’s £8. That’s not bad.  And here’s one of Buckingham Palace for only six.

ANA:           I prefer the one of the Tower.  See if he’ll come down a bit.

HARRY:     Well, I’ll try.  (To the stallholder).  This print of the Tower.  How much is it?

STALLHOLDER: That one is £8.  A very nice print indeed.  Just look at the colours!

HARRY:     Well, it’s not bad, but this corner is a bit creased.  Look there.  Can you knock something off for that?

STALLHOLDER: It’s not really damaged at all, but I could let it go for £7.  What about that?

HARRY:     (To Ana)  Is £7 OK?

ANA:           That’s fine!

STALLHOLDER: There you are. A beautiful print!  

HARRY:      Here you are, Ana.

ANA:          Thanks for bargaining for me, now I owe you a coffee.

HARRY:     That’ll be more than a pound!  You’re going to be out of pocket!

ANA:          Bargaining in another language is never easy.

HARRY:     They say that counting and praying should always be done in your own language! We’d better add bargaining to the list!

While the four friends were bargaining (and counting but not praying) in Portobello Road, Maria and Oliver were looking for each other. They were going round in circles, just as Carmen had predicted.  

First, Oliver went to the Imperial Hotel, hoping to find Maria there, but she had left five minutes before he arrived.  She went to Imperial College and looked in the bar of the Students Union, and then she felt bad that the first place she thought he might be in was a bar, so then she looked in the library. He wasn’t in the bar or the library.  Oliver, meanwhile, went to Harrods because he thought that Maria might be there.

Finally, both of them, tired and disappointed, being near the Science Museum, decided to go in just to find a bench to sit on and rest for a moment.

The Science Museum

Maria is exhausted after walking around London looking for Oliver all morning, and she sits down on a bench in the medical section where they had met by chance before.  Then fate lends a hand and is helpful for once. At that moment Maria sees Olly come in.   

MARIA:     Olly!  Hello Olly!

OLIVER:    Ah Maria!  Hello!

MARIA:     What a surprise!

OLIVER:    Yes, isn’t it?  A pleasant surprise!  Er, have you had a good day?

MARIA:     Oh yes. I’ve been shopping all morning.  I’ve been to a lot of shops.  I’ve had a lovely morning!  And you?

OLIVER:    Oh yes, I’ve had a good morning too.  I’ve been training on the river, you know, I’ve been rowing.  I’ve done a lot of rowing.

There is silence for 4.5 seconds.  Then they both speak together.

OLIVER and MARIA:   I think…

OLIVER:    You go on.

MARIA:     No, you.

OLIVER:    Maria, please.

MARIA:     Well, I think that I’ve been very silly.

OLIVER:    So have I.  So have I.  Extremely silly!

MARIA:     No, you haven’t.

OLIVER:    Yes, I have.

MARIA:     No, you haven’t.

OLIVER:    Yes, I have. (Slowly) Maria, I was wondering if you could possibly find time, if it’s convenient for you, to have dinner with me tonight.

MARIA:     Yes.

OLIVER:    Please, do come!  It’s only one evening.  If you’re not busy.  If you’re not doing anything else.  If you’re not doing anything more important.

MARIA:     I said yes.

OLIVER:    You said yes?

MARIA:     Yes.  I said yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

OLIVER:    Ah, perhaps you didn’t understand the question.  I’ll say it again.  If you’re not too busy…

MARIA:     Of course I understood.  And I’ll come to dinner with you.

OLIVER:    Ah well.  Good.  Fine.  Really?

MARIA:     Really.  What time?

OLIVER:    (tentatively) Half past eight?

MARIA:     Eight o’clock?

OLIVER:    Half past seven?

MARIA:     Seven o’clock.  Yes, seven.  Seven is perfect.  

OLIVER:    We’ll meet in your hotel?  In reception?

MARIA:     Yes.  Oh no!

OLIVER:    What’s wrong?

MARIA:     I forgot.  I’m seeing Carmen and Ana at four to go round the National Theatre, and then we’re all meeting up at seven anyway.  All of us.  I think they all want to go to another play. Something by Agatha Christie.  I don’t know what it’s called.  Something about mice, I think.

OLIVER:    Well, we’ll get out of it somehow.   We’ll find some excuse and make sure we have dinner together.  See you at seven.

 MARIA:    Yes, at seven.

OLIVER:    (As she goes slowly)  See you tonight then, in reception, at seven o’clock.  Oh Maria!  What’s your mobile number?

(Oliver puts it in his phone, and Maria goes.)

Hasta luego, Maria!

MARIA:     That doesn’t sound right! ‘Ciao’ sounds much better!

OLIVER:    Right, now it’s 2.25.  Another 4 hours 35 minutes to wait!  Seven o’clock!  Seven o’clock! (He looks at his watch) Another 4 hours 34 minutes to wait!

MARIA:     I like to hear you say ‘Ciao’!

OLIVER:    Come on.  There’s no need to say anything.  Forget about seven o’clock! There are miles and miles of streets in London!  Let’s walk along them. Just you and me! 

MARIA:     And 10 million other Londoners.

OLIVER:    They won’t be interested in us!  And we certainly won’t be interested in them!  We’ll be invisible in St James’s Park.  It will be as if we had the whole place to ourselves. Come on! Quickly!  We have 6 days to make up!

MARIA:      Why does this happen just before I’m going back to Madrid?  You’re right! We have wasted six days! Six whole days!

OLIVER:      Come on!  Come on! To St James’s Park!