I noticed him first… it was in the Royal Beach Hotel and we were sitting having breakfast; we were on a circular table with friends, and he was on a circular table too with a few other people. I noticed him because he looked so old-fashioned, as if he’d just walked off the set of a period drama.
He was probably in his fifties, but may have been older, it was hard to tell. The people on the same table were part of a large group of ballroom dancers who were staying in the hotel, so maybe he was a ballroom dancer too. He was petite, very slim, small hands with long fingers, a small head with an ordinary but not un-handsome face, clean-shaven, precise features, neat hair which looked barbered to perfection, and an alert interested expression. He looked alert and interested but it was a polite, almost watchful interest which didn’t give away what he might be thinking.
He was wearing a cream shirt, and although I wasn’t near enough, I could tell it was an expensive shirt.He was wearing a brown jacket and waistcoat, fitted round his slight figure, with a watch chain and fob, and some sort of gold coloured badge – maybe a wing, maybe an arrow, something I was too far away to see, on his jacket lapel. His suit trousers were well-pressed, and when he got up to go to the breakfast buffet, I could see the sharp creases down the front. He had elegant, expensive, well-polished, shiny brown shoes. He was an elegant little man from head to toe… and somehow mysterious.
A woman came to sit at the table, sitting beside him. Another guest? A member of the ballroom dancing party? His wife? She was taller than him and although slim was shapely. She had dark hair, a pleasant smiley face, glasses, and a rather nice dress with a pattern of leaves on a pale background and a black belt. I thought she must be his wife because although her dress was more contemporary, there was something stylish about her, as there was with him, something different. I went to the buffet and she came and stood beside me and I noticed her silver earrings were in the shape of leaping hares, so unusual, and somehow fitting.
Later as we left the dining room he stood and I could see the cut of his jacket, with no vents, and rather longer than usual – styled longer not longer because he was small, and certainly from a former era… and yes, so stylish.
Later that day we were walking back to the hotel and I saw a couple in front of us, and I immediate guessed it was them. He was wearing a short coat – not a jacket but a short jacket with no vents, a fedora, and was carrying a couple of paper store bags in one hand and in the other, a curious flat, rectangular, wooden object, maybe a tray with only three sides, but I couldn’t really make it out.
The woman walking beside him had a black coat which billowed in the slight breeze. It had a slit up the back, almost to her waist, so as she walked her shapely legs were visible beneath the short dress she was wearing. She had high-heeled black shoes which emphasised her nice legs. Of course it was the mysterious couple I had seen at breakfast. Thew were looking at some feature of the entrance of the hotel and as we passed them I heard her saying something to him in a pleasant, well-modulated Irish voice
I saw them at breakfast again the next day; she was wearing a different dress, a lovely black and white frock, he was wearing his brown suit and brown shoes but had a white shirt today. I was so intrigues by them, but I’ll never know the identity of this couple with such individual style and flair!
My featured image is of a palm tree in Portsmouth – where the hotel was where we were staying.