Columbia Road … East London… Sunday morning… Countdown to Christmas
She was ahead of me as we jostled our way down Columbia Road… in search of flowers and Christmas inspiration.
I didn’t see her at first, I was too enthused and seduced by the riot of colour around me.
Columbia Road flower market feels like ‘old’ London… ‘real’ London… whatever that might be… full of curious people and cockney accents… It’s easy to imagine the flower sellers saying “two for a penny”, when in fact it’s “three bunches for ten” or “five for a tenner”… There is an authenticity to this market, a vibrancy… an energy that is infectious…
Our eyes were too big for what our hands could carry. I wanted to bring all that merriment home… Christmas trees and wreaths (even though we will be spending the holidays in Provence) tulips… cyclamens, berries… orchids, hyacinths and amaryllis… The scene on Columbia Road was lush, excitable and boisterous… I wish you could experience the atmosphere, hear the sounds, see the vividness and feel the anticipation. One thing about London is she loves the lead up to Christmas… it’s impossible not to feel festive in this city…
As we moved down this jolly and tightly packed corridor heaving with people, but not in an uncomfortable way… in an inclusive and happy way… there was a woman walking ahead, who almost parted the crowds she looked so lovely.
She wore a knitted coat in a raspberry shade of pink… the collar, large and generous to frame her face. Thick textured tights and metallic high heeled pumps complimented her outfit. Her gently greying hair was twisted and pinned artfully and her striking face was enhanced with a large pair of lapis-like earrings. What stood out… was not that she was dressed in the latest designer style from top to toe but that she had taken so much care with her appearance. She looked so elegant amongst the denim and dark… so unique against the converse and the biker boots… This was Columbia Road, east London… very early in the morning… the dragged-out-of-bed look was far more de-rigueur.
I asked if I could take her picture… she was surprised… and I told her why… It is rare to see a woman making such a stupendous effort for the everyday… her gesture, it seemed glamourous… luxurious… thought provoking and noteworthy…
How often we let our appearance slip? Too tired, too lazy… can’t be bothered… it’s not important… we live a casual life… There are a million reasons to find excuses for not going those extra few yards. I don’t mean for the special occasions… we all frock up well when we have to…
Is this because we live in a world where our lives revolve around convenience? We excel at shortcuts… taking the easy way is considered clever… the long, winding road is laborious… Have our appearances suffered for that?
I found it uplifting to see a woman who had so much personal pride… such individuality… I believe taking good care of ourselves is a compliment to those we love and a great boost for our own self confidence. Yet knowing this and following through are not one and the same thing. It’s so much more practical to be out and about in trainers… so much more comfortable to stay in the gym gear all day… But are we doing ourselves a disservice? Letting ourselves down?
This handsome woman, walking tall, so elegantly and beautifully groomed caught not only my eye but also my inner voice… a gentle reminder that a few extra minutes a day, a little more thought and application will make a positive difference to how I feel and how those around me feel.
Do you feel the same? Do we let our appearances slide in our quest to conquer this modern world? xv
receive my posts by email… subscribe to French Essence
follow me on instagram