Wait a minute, I said to myself over a cappucchino and carrot cake after I had safely delivered my granddaughter to the other set of grandparents who would take her home to Stockholm. Wait a minute. I am in London. On my own. On a Saturday. Portobello Road!
And off I went to Portobello Road. It was crowded, as it always is, and I went in zigzags from shop to shop, from stall to stall. There was one with lots of dollhouse stuff, but stuff that I don't buy anymore because I can make much better myself. And then I found this fabulous little shop on the upper floor, where I happily parted with all my cash and where I could have stayed longer just looking at things. Eventually I left, heading north toward an underground station which turned out to be permanently closed, so I had to walk all the way back to Notting Hill Gate. By this time, it suddenly started raining, and every stall was offering umbrellas and ponchos, so I dived into my bag to get two pounds - and couldn't find my purse. Now, in such situations I know that I mustn't panic. It happens to me all the time that I cannot find my purse or my keys or my card in the depths of my bag, and I know that I just have to go through it carefully. Since it was pouring rain, I couldn't get out all my purchases and my London map and my cell phone and my Kindle and my car keys and put them on the pavement, and it was anyway much too crowded. When I finally stated that my purse was simply not there, I rather optimistically concluded that I had had my bag on my stomach all the time, so it was unlikely that the purse was stolen, but I must have dropped it in the shop. The thing was, I didn't remember which shop, and there are hundreds of them along Portobello Road. Since I didn't have money to buy an umbrella or poncho, I just walked on, soaked to the bone, looking into every shop and hoping to recognise the right one, which I finally did. Before I could open my mouth, the lady in the shop cried: "Relax, I have it". I sank on the floor. They got me a cup of tea and entertained me with stories of how they had lost and found their purses and how other people had been kind to them.
I was still wet through when I left the shop, so it didn't make much sense to buy a poncho. I marched to the station and came to King's Cross just in time for a quarter-past train. As I sat there, I couldn't help thinking of the could-have-been if it hadn't rained and I hadn't discovered the loss of my purse until maybe the day after tomorrow, and I felt that I had had a tremendously lucky day.
This is what I bought. If you don't know what a Dutch doll is, there is vast literature on the subject.