And while you smile
Another smile smiles
And after a while
There are miles of smiles
And life’s worthwhile
Because you smiled.”
My Gran wrote that for me when I was nine years old. When I think of her, I smile. She was that kind of person.
Thinking back on my English travels, I recall the day that B and I set off for Covent Garden to meet friends of mine for lunch. I looked at the woman siting opposite me on the tube. In front of her was a suitcase on wheels. Her young daughter was asleep next to her. I gave her a smile which was met by a blank stare. She had obviously been travelling for a long time and was in no mood for smiles! Two seats down was a rather dour man who was reading a paper and occasionally just staring into space. Our eyes met and I gave him a friendly smile. His eyes shifted uneasily back to his paper. Obviously the tube was not a place for smiles!
We arrived and meandered around Covent Garden. They had lovely little stalls but it was a case of merely looking. Everything was terrifically expensive. Numerous people caught my eye but not once was I met by an answering smile. Oh well, tante pis! London was obviously not a place for smiles!
We arrived at the restaurant where we had arranged to meet everyone. We had no sooner sat down when Suannne arrived. Suanne Braun is a vibrant personality and carries laughter with her. I had seen Suanne this time last year and it seemed as if we had merely paused for breath in our conversation. And there was Jenny De Lenta. I hadn’t see Jenny for twenty-one years and oh, it felt good hugging her once more. I had forgotten the serenity Jenny carries with her. She introduced us to her husband, Craig and her beautiful littler daughter, Milaya. Craig and Milaya went off to do their own thing and left us girls to talk, catch up on each others lives, laugh together and rejoice in being alive. At 2.30 p.m. ‘B’ leant across to me and said: “I have managed to contact your old friend, Lawrence Hilton. He’s in Leicester Square and will be here in ten minutes.”
Hell, ’twas good seeing him again. He makes me laugh like few other people do. I don’t know what it is! We obviously share the same sense of humour in bucket loads. That afternoon loads of smiles were shared amongst us fellow South Africans!
Walking home I smiled at a woman walking towards me expecting the normal blank stare in return. I was met by an answering beam as the woman passed my side. Not just in the mouth. Her eyes seemed to sparkle as if the two of us had just shared a joke. I stopped in my tracks, looking back at her. Then unable to stop myself I went after her, calling out: “Excuse me, could you just wait a second?”
“Sure,” she said, “What’s the matter?”
“You. You are what matters.” She looked a little puzzled. Understandably! I tried to explain. “I am on holiday here from South Africa, and I have noticed that you Londoners don’t smile at strangers. You don’t smile at people you pass on the street or sitting opposite you on the tube. Londoners didn’t smile, I thought, that is until I passed you and you met my smile with a radiant beam that took my breath away. Thankyou!”
The woman grinned at me. “I have been living in London for the past seven years. But before that I spent thirty of them growing up in South Africa. I am South African!”
I chuckled the whole way home.
“And life’s worthwhile
Because you smiled.”