“I am a dancer”, she answered to Luna’s question.
“As in, a professional dancer?” asked Paula.
“Are you dancing here in London?”
“No, not now. I am on holiday now.”
Paula awaited for more.
“I have been touring. The last show was in London, but the company I dance with is based in Wales, we have finished for the season, we finished last week and I came here, but I was too tired to even get out of my bed. Today is the first day I have come out.”
Paula and Luna were amazed. All this was new to them. They invited her to their kitchen and, from then on, they had their meals regularly in the communal garden patio.

Luna took pictures of some of these meals and Paula has managed to keep one of those pictures to this day.
Tilda had worked in a restaurant where the waitresses had to dance for the guests. She gave Luna the directions for that place and tips on how to get a job there. That was where Luna worked for the rest of her stay in London.

As Tilda was recovering and Luna got used to her new job, they continued to spend time in the tv room while Paula worked in her full time data entry job. Paula did not know how the words “data entry” translated into Spanish so Luna came up with a new name for it, ‘mete-datos’, which was the name that Paula would use from then on and for good to refer to that job.

By that time Paula could finally afford a mobile phone and she had lent it to Luna to make it easier for her to find a job. On the Friday that she was going to meet Lisa, Paula kept it so that she could phone her in case she was late. And of course she had to phone her to tell her she would be half an hour late. She had got out of the office later than usual and then the trains were delayed. Paula had shunned mobile phones and so had Lisa some time in her past, but now they had to agree that it was useful to know that the person one is waiting will be half an hour late.

Lisa took Paula to a nice cheap restaurant in Soho. Paula shared with Lisa her experiences when all she could afford was a small cup of tea that she would drink with others like her, all aware that they were each drinking an hour and a half of their work. Lisa had similar stories to tell. Paula was surprised that she had hardships stories even without having been an immigrant like herself and her other Spanish friends.

From the restaurant, Lisa took Paula to Covent Garden among other places, to see the portrait painters and hear the street musicians play and sing. There was a tall and handsome long-haired man signing songs Paula had never heard. Then he sang ‘Mrs. Robinson’, which Paula had heard before, and that must have been his jewel final, because immediately after singing it he started to wrap up. As he was wrapping up, a pair of young men who had been standing in the background with big cases started to open those cases and take out instruments from them – a guitar, a flute, percussion. Lisa explained that each musician had a slot allocated for each location. Now the solo singer would leave and the group of two would start their act, at the agreed time. How the agreed time had been reached remain a mystery, as was who and how decided who would be allowed to play in the plaza and who would not.

The duo were not Spanish but they sang in Spanish well enough and could make up that they were playing flamenco. Paula was glad to hear some songs she could relate to but was not especially impressed. After hanging out for a few hours and standing up, both felt quite tired and headed off to their respective stops for public transport after a warm good-bye.
Paula must have recover most if not all of her strength while napping in the bus home because when she got home and found Tilda and Luna in front of the tv she scolded them and urged them to go out on such a beautiful Friday night. She wanted to get them back to Covent Garden but they reminded her that their economies were not buoyant enough to spend a pound on a bus trip that was not vital for their own survival. She thought that at least Luna had a weekly bus pass so two more trips were not going to make any difference, but she agreed to go somewhere where they could walk. Even if the walk would take longer than a bus ride to Soho.

They didn’t know much about local pubs either and she decided to take them to the same pub where she had taken her Polish friend to listen to live music. There was live music on that night too but that was only relevant to Paula. Luna and Tilda were entertained by men amazed by their beauty. Paula was amused and consulted from time to time for translation.

After a few weeks of rest, Tilda went back to her dancing company. Luna and Paula stayed and did a bit of tourism, of the kind that Paula now liked – she showed Luna the London that only people who lived in London could show their guests. Of course Luna went on her own to take pictures of the Big Ben, the Tower of London … and she saw the Tower Bridge opened for a ship before Paula did. Paula would only see it years later. But Paula showed Luna things that were not in the tourist guides. She took her to Stoke Newington cemetery, the swimming ponds in Hamstead and the ‘Meridian Zero’ in Greenwich.

“Are we supposed to feel something here?”, asked Luna. Paula was about to laugh but this was just Luna being Luna.
“No. This is just for you to know that meridians are counted from here, that’s all.”
They did not see that many things after Luna got her job as a dancer and waitress and she started to complain that now that she had a bit of money, she no longer had so much time. Paula thought that she was lucky that she lived with some one who was a friend and who had all evenings free to share, something she herself had lacked.

After those few weeks, Tilda came back for a couple of days only. Luna and Paula smuggled her into their room so that she wouldn’t need to pay for a room in another hostel or a hired mattress. On the second night there were some steps outside. Luna and Paula were pretty sure they were from some other resident. Tilda disagreed and just in case she was right, she hid herself under the sink in the kitchen, which Paula and Luna had thought it was only big enough for a small bucket, but somehow Tilda squeezed herself there before they even had the time to check who those steps belonged to, because they faded away as quickly as they had come.

Eventually Tilda went back to her dancing and Luna went back to her life in Spain. Paula continued to have Luna’s letters and Tilda’s visits from her tours.

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