December 18, 2018

Finding a Great Love in London

When I was in London a couple of weeks ago I came upon a vendor on Portobello Road, who had amongst his treasures for sale, a bunch of antique typewriters. I spent quite a long while looking at his impressive collection. I loved them and was amazed they all still worked and had the original cases. There was one in particular, a Corona from the early 1900’s, that I truly felt was destined to be mine.

I was drawn to her in a way I cannot explain. It was as if she had stories to tell and only trusted me to hear them. I placed my fingers on the keys and she spoke to me. It sounds silly I suppose, but there was something very special about the typewriter and I felt connected to not only her, but to those who had shared their thoughts with her. I became wrapped up in her history and it was powerful.

I did not buy her that day and have been upset ever since. I’ve thought about her every single day and questioned myself for not buying her when I had the chance. By questioning, of course I mean kicking myself in the ass for leaving her there when she so obviously wanted to come back to America with me. She was born in New York and clearly wanted to cross the Atlantic again, but I left her.

I bought a few treasures for my son and left, looking back at the shop as I walked away. I don’t know why I didn’t buy it, but was determined to go back and promised myself that if I did, and she was still there, she was coming home with me. Yesterday I was back on Portobello Road, looking for the shop. I went into every stall and finally came found the place. Olympic Antiquer of Portobello Road.

The same lovely man was there, Nicholas Plakas. He is a tall man with kind eyes, a strong Greek accent, and an insane knowledge of every single piece pf history he is selling. I told him I had seen a typewriter at the front of his shop several weeks ago and came back to get it. The typewriter was not on the shelf and I panicked, but showed him the photo I took weeks earlier while crossing my fingers.

 Nicholas Plakas

He told me not to worry, he still had her. He moved around his countless pieces and there she was, safely tucked into her carrier, packed and ready to return to America. I opened the case, took her out, and typed “I love you”. I let Nicholas know I was taking her this time. He is not one to barter as he knows what he has and what it’s worth, but he loves his things and wants them taken care of.

He told me she waited for me to come back, and gave me a professional discount since I’m a writer and she is a tool of my trade. I wanted to cry, but instead I hugged this lovely man and told the typewriter I was taking her home. It turns out she was built in 1912, so I imagine she got to London on a ship, which is cool.  I will spend the rest of my life imagining her life as she found her way to me.

Should you find yourself in London, and in need of a treasure, please visit Nicholas. He is located at 165 Portobello Road and you can find him on Facebook as “Olympic Antiquer”. Aside from his shop, you will simply love hanging out with him as he knows so much about the things he sells. This man is a remarkable antique dealer and is now my friend as I feel he has reunited me with a long lost love.

I came to London for work and have been here longer than was originally planned, but it would seem it was all for a reason. I needed to see this typewriter and walk away from her, to then understand how important it was for me to have her. I cannot wait to get her home and set up on my desk. Thank you to Nicholas for my treasure. I shall call her Sheila and take care of her always.

Everyone has stories and I am lucky to share mine here. I have been known to make people laugh and cry, think about things in a new way, or disagree, sometimes on a disproportionate level. My blessing is that I am able to tell my stories without fear or hesitation. I would like to think the people who used Sheila before me were the same, as we are now all connected writers, keeping the faith.