I don’t remember the very first day she was there. I don’t even remember the second. But one day I remember thinking “There she is again! How many days is that now?”
This sweet, smiley, warm but shy girl had been sitting on a bench by my busking pitch every day and staying sometimes 4 hours each time. She didn’t say very much but she smiled a lot and she came back every day. After a few days she would give a timid wave as she left as if to say “see you tomorrow!”
I wondered about her a lot; who she was and why she was here in London. One day she did something unexpected: she dropped a bar of chocolate in my case and sat back down. It was an unfamiliar brand to me and felt like something out of Willy Wonker’s chocolate factory. It was beautiful. I don’t know how many weeks or donations in the form of chocolate passed by before I found out her name was Lara and she was from Switzerland (hence the chocolate!)
Lara was new to London. Trying to improve her English by working as an au pair. She didn’t know anyone and I became a familiar face everyday in this new strange city. As I got to know her better I found out that she smiled so much at the start because she couldn’t understand a word I was saying! Lara became a regular at my gigs and on the Southbank on her days off. We both shed a tear when she returned to Switzerland.
I’ve since had many more encounters like Lara; lonely hearts in London in need of a friendly face. But that first girl who stayed will always have a special place in my own lonely heart.