About 5 months before I left London I met a gentleman who absolutely swept me off my feet. One of the very first things he warned me about was that I’d need a gym membership because of the amount of food he was going to introduce me to. He was not lying. This tall, dark and handsome gentleman took my hand and showed me his London. Spending time with him was amazing but also melancholy knowing in a few months I’d have to say goodbye to him. I didn’t want to say goodbye to him. I liked him too damn much.
Being a Croydon local he was determined to show me just how unique a place this area was. Even though he runs a rooftop cinema with food and booze, he took me elsewhere for our first date. He met me at West Croydon station and we made our way down to Five Guys; an ice cream and milkshake bar. Being in his company was amazing and listening to his South East London accent was so sexy. This one is intelligent and so knowledgeable about his work playground. He gave me a history lesson of Croydon and how much it was evolving. We moved on to Green Dragon, a bar just down the road. I believe Manchester United was playing that day. It was a feisty atmosphere. We ordered alcoholic beverages and continued to talk like we’d known each other for years. I am an introvert and it usually takes me weeks to let down my guard, something he managed to do in hours. Once our drinks were finished he finally took me to his rooftop cinema, nested in the car park of Centrale shopping mall. I had frequented this mall several times, so seeing the transformation into a cinema and bar was absolutely amazing. It worked so well. We ordered more drinks and he gave me my first taste of jerk chicken, rice with stuffing and peas. It was so weird that I felt so at ease with him, using my hands to tear up the chicken (the inner African in the both of us coming out). After dinner he walked me back to the station. I couldn’t wait to see him again.
The next time I saw him was a couple of weeks later. This time round we wandered into another pub and enjoyed a couple of drinks. After the bar closed we took a walk where he surprised me by showing off one of his future projects, a coffee shop and work space in the heart of Croydon. The place was just a shell at this stage but his imagination painted a good picture. From here we walked around Croydon where he took me down a few streets showing me the great street art that Croydon has to offer. We ended the night with a bag of McDonald’s chicken nuggets to satisfy the munchies that had set in.
In the weekends that followed my gentleman introduced me to bake well tart at the Portland Arms in Norwood Junction; a warm pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. He also took me to a Ghanian restaurant called The Gold Coast, also in Norwood Junction, for an African fix of jollof rice. We got it to take away and he served me home made plantain to go with it. He made me prawn omelettes and scrambled eggs with bacon for breakfasts. Sundays he made me roasts or ordered Chinese food (making me my first ever pecking duck pancake). At this stage my clothes seemed to start getting tighter.
This man I had become very fond off thrives to empower the community, especially the African presence in London. He took me to an African festival in the Southbank area which comprised mostly of food stalls. We sampled some Ghanian and Nigerian jollof rice with plantain. He preferred the Nigerian rice, you could almost accuse him of being biased if I didn’t also agree with him.
He also took me to an Afro Punk Festival, an event that truly celebrated African culture. There were 2 performance spaces, loads of food stalls as well as clothing spaces. It was an amazing show space. It was such a pleasure being on his arm for this event.
A week before I left my gentleman took me to Covent Garden and Soho to explore underground sophistication.
We began the day by feasting on delicious steaks and lobster at a Belgian restaurant called Belgo Soho. The steak was cooked to perfection accompanied with creamy mash and mushroom sauce. The menu boasted several flavoured ciders, including a chocolate one. Just about able to move he took me to the Basement Sate Cocktail Bar, still in Soho. He had a white russian and I sipped on a martini. The 2 of us walked around Soho slightly buzzing. We decided to admire the art in the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery as well. Dinner time came along, while searching for somewhere to eat we grabbed some cake from a Chinese bakery. It was so light and fluffy. We decided on Thai food for dinner. The food was nothing worth writing home about. It did do it’s job in filling us. We waddled back to the tube and back home. Sleep came easily that night.
The following day we headed to Shoreditch to check out the flower market. Despite my hayfever I enjoyed seeing the colours and taking in the fragrances. He took me to a members club called Soho House. He explained to me that there are a few locations but the specific one he took me to was Shoredith House. He showed me around the impressive establishment before we sat down for Sunday roast which consisted of half a chicken, vegetables, mash, roast potatoes as well as cauliflower in a cheese sauce. Each. In the end we had to take the left overs away. Thankfully the station was across the road. We didn’t stand again until our stop. Sleep came easy again.
He had to work so I went off to Northampton to say goodbye to family. I returned the day before I flew out. We made one last trip to the Gold Coast and enjoyed jollof rice with lamb. We both had sad eyes leading up to the point we had to say goodbye to each other. He sat with me on the platform until my train arrived. I went in for a final hug and with that left his world to return to mine, with my sad eyes and heavy heart.
My dark knight made me fall madly in love with his London. It was so hard saying goodbye to him. I managed to stuff one of his shirts into my luggage. It hangs in my wardrobe now.