Serendipity was the name of a very new and exciting shop in Notting Hill Gate in
the sixties. I never actually went inside because I had no money, but I
would press my nose to the window and look longingly at the mixture of
colourful home furnishings and useless but pretty objets, not
necessarily d’art. I would pass the shop two or three evenings a week on my
way to the Ladbroke Gardens Hotel where I worked as an evening
waitress. This was my very first job in London when I was fifteen. (I
don’t count potato picking in Wales when I was eight!)
The hotel was run by the parents of my boarding school friend Jackie.
They were Swiss, extremely hospitable and kind and they paid me half a
crown for two hours work, serving the residents their evening meal. The
residents were all long stay guests, elderly, and didn’t eat very much.
But oh, so fussy ‐ at least some of them. The crackers and cheese had to
be just so ‐ but the best job was curling the butter pats. Oh what skills I
acquired, rarely to be used since!
The two hours would fly by, and then the best part of the evening. The
whole family: Jackie, her two younger brothers, her parents and I would
sit down to a fabulous meal made by Cookie ‐ and gorge on the
most delicious food. Then I’d go home again, richer by two and six, and ready for the evening!
Still not enough to buy anything in Serendipity, but a girl could dream!