The house in Notting hill Gate was empty when I bought the basement flat. The freehold was for sale. It seemed like a good investment for a forty five year old widow.
The top flat was leased to two young sisters, both lively and full of fun. In and out at all hours. Jackie worked for a merchant bank and Gillian was a buyer for a department store.
Two bachelors leased the ground floor. Gary an art teacher and Ralph a junior executive for a building company. They were handsome lads. I wondered when and if they would get off with the girls upstairs. They were sober young men, but had little money, whereas the sisters clattering down the stairs in high heels and glamorous dresses, stepping into purring cars or arriving home at dawn in taxis, lived beyond the means of Ralph and Garry.
Jackie was a worry. She had dark shadows under her eyes. The same car called for her each evening. A pale blue Rolls Royce, driven by a dark, thick set man who looked twenty years older than her.
I saw Gillian’s legs disappearing into a taxi most evenings, but scarcely went out myself. A plan was devised.
Ralph, Garry and the two sisters accepted my invitation to Sunday lunch. After a meal of roast beef and a few glasses of red wine, the four seemed relaxed and happy.
“How is your wealthy friend?” Ralph asked Jackie. “Oh Rolls,” interrupted Gillian. “She’s mad to see so much of him.”
“What about you and wallet?” accused Jackie. She added “Gillian’s boss carries a wallet thick with notes to impress. At least Rolls carries cards.”
“Wallet and Rolls?” is that what you call them?” asked Garry half amused and half disapproving. The sisters looked ashamed.
“I expect you are impressed by Rolls and Wallet,” I remarked “Before you grow older let’s hope you find love for itself. Houses are shells, cars are metal. Money helps, but it’s no consolation for not being with the right one, believe me.”
They all looked thoughtful.
Sunday lunch became something we enjoyed together regularly. There were lengthy discussions about love and the meaning of life, about poetry and art.
Rolls stopped calling. There was a double wedding in the Spring. Ralph married Jackie and Garry married Gillian.
I wore a lime green hat with a pink rose on the front. Wallet was there. His name is Jack really. I’ve been seeing him lately.