Emilio and I had been laughing and giggling together - well, I had been laughing and Emilio giggling ; -) the guest’s blue eyes flickered uncertainly between myself and Emilio, the lips tried to twitch into a smile. Thankfully Emilio, eager to get on with his evening, turned to whisk his friend away with a brief " you two know each, don’t you? " I watched them as they went up the stairs to the managerial suite where they had decided to have room service instead of dining in the restaurant. Chalk and cheese, I thought, one tall, slender and fair - very English the other shorter, stockier, with a head of thick black hair and very Latin - fire and ice, how had two such different people become friends?
Later, Jack, the Head Porter came into the switch room and sat in the spare chair beside me, the floor waiter brought down a tray of coffee and biscuits and put it on the small cupboard beside him. Just to demonstrate the pecking order - Jack had his coffee first then myself and the other porters could have ours. I didn’t feel like chatting to him, I was still puzzling over this strange turn of events, but Jack raised his brows upwards, indicating upstairs and said "they’re still up there then?" Mmm, I answered, scribbling on my pad and trying to look busy, I had no intention of giving Jack any excuse to have a pop at Emilio. Eventually he got up to go, but then stopped at the doorway and looked back - "You know, then...." "Yep" I stopped whatever he was going to say and thankfully I had to answer a few calls on the switchboard.
I felt just stunned for the rest of the evening - of all the people in all the world why did Emilio have to be friends with - Andrew!! This was the guy who had been blanking me for the last three years - and I hadn’t a clue why. We had first met when I went to do overtime at The Grosvenor Court Hotel just across the road in Davies Street, Andrew had been on reception and I had expected him to be as friendly as all the other Grand Metites that I’d met whenever I did overtime. They were usually grateful that the board was being manned otherwise the reception or the porters would have to have covered the board, when they were short of telephonists. Also, the other staff liked to come and have a chat and ask which hotel you worked in and was it a good place to work - all the usual questions. But when I spoke to Andrew he just looked down his nose at me, and spoke briefly, but in the most patronising manner. He certainly had no intention of being friendly. We would often meet at the bus stop after a late shift, but he completely ignored me, even when, on one occasion, Theresa, one of the telephonists at The Grosvenor Court was also their, she chatted to me, and to Andrew and he responded to her, but he stood with his back half turned to me and totally ignored me. When I’d shared a room with Kathy in the garret, there were just two rooms at the top of the narrow winding stairs, and Andrew often visited the girl in the next room, sometimes I would meet him on the stairs but there was never any eye contact and I might as well not bother saying hello....... Then there was the time I met him on the bus going to work, I saw a familiar face and instinctively smiled hello, but he turned away to look stonily out of the window. I think after that I gave up, I accepted he didn’t like me - I just wished I knew why.
Just as I was leaving to go home, Emilio and Andrew were coming downstairs, they were in good spirits, it was good to see Emilio relaxed and genuinely cheerful, not just the usual nervous giggle. I had never seen Andrew like this before, he was a good looking fellow, and his now smiling face made him look very handsome indeed. And as he glanced in my direction the smile did not fade one iota. Emilio saw him to the glass doors, they shook hands and off he went. Emilio turned to me, still smiling "By the way, I have good news for you - there’s a single room at Ashley Court available to you, but I need a quick answer". "Oh great, I’ll go and see it tomorrow" I replied eagerly. "You want to look at it?" Emilio almost choked. "Do you want it - yes or no?" " Yes thank you" I said meekly, "Good, I went to a lot of trouble to get that for you - don’t you dare turn it down!" He scowled at me beneath his thick, dark brows and I thought aw - he’s so sweet when he scowls like that!
Well I did go to Ashley Court the next day to have a look at the room - and what a surprise I got! No pokey old garrett, no looking over the bins in the back yard, I didn’t even have to climb to the top floor. It was a single room on the front over looking Queensgate, on the second floor - and it had it’s own private balcony! It was a long narrow room, it had a sink built into a cupboard, a large Victorian wardrobe, dressing table and chest of drawers and a small cupboard next to the single bed pushed up into the corner of the room, but best of all - double French windows which opened onto the balcony. It was going to cost me £2.10.0 a week, but worth every penny lol! I knew that a single room with shared services in central London (but not as posh an address as this!) would cost at least £5 per week, and nothing provided. We had maid service, laundry service, breakfast and social facilities such as the bar, TV room and games room. There were small kitchens situated on every floor and more bathrooms than I managed to get through during my time at Ashley Court - and I did attempt to try them all out lol!
I was at the switchboard the next morning when I took a call and heard a soft voice say "Freda?" "Yes" I replied desperately trying to recognise the voice, "It’s Andrew, could I speak to Emilio please?" I nearly fell off my chair in surprise. They seemed to be on the phone for ages, but eventually Emilio came downstairs to give me a cheerful ‘good morning’. I was on with my supervisor ‘Angie’, and even she remarked on how cheerful Emilio seemed to be. Angie was in her late fifties and a wise old soul - everybody’s shoulder to cry on, and thankfully she did not seem to have a ‘down’ on Emilio. So, perhaps knowing he had ‘back-up’ in the switchroom, at least, he spent quite a lot of the morning talking to us. Angie was very happy that I was now going back to live in Ashley Court and pleased with Emilio for working so hard in getting the room for me. Unfortunately I could only give Pat & Dickie a week’s notice otherwise I would be paying for two lots of lodgings and I couldn’t afford that. I would miss their mad cap company, but not all the travelling!
Have to go and cut the grass - so sorry - no cliff hanger lol! ;-)