Whenever I passed him, we would exchange greetings and I’d occasionally stop and chat for a few minutes. Sleeves rolled up sinewy arms, he would be washing, polishing, or tinkering with his employer’s magnificent peacock blue Rolls Royce.
It was the summer of ’76 and I was in my first job. The dull concrete office block sat opposite a row of unassuming but very desirable red brick residences with inconspicuous front doors and integral garages, a stone’s throw from London’s leafy Berkeley Square.
One sweltering afternoon, escape from the oppressive heat seemed impossible as we stood discussing the impending drought restrictions. Our conversation ended abruptly as I checked my watch and realised I had to hurry to catch my train. “Hop in, I’ll give you a lift to the tube station, save your feet,” he said, grabbing a towel and wiping his hands. I could scarcely believe my ears, and accepted gracefully, feeling a little flutter of excitement as he quickly rolled down his sleeves and winked. Insisting that I sat in the back, he opened the hefty door and I shyly climbed into the cavernous space, conscious that my skirt might be revealing a bit too much rear thigh.
Settling myself on the sumptuous seat, I was overcome with childish glee. He slid into the driver’s seat with practiced ease, pulled the door closed and looked over his shoulder. The words were casual, but his voice was husky, and I felt my cheeks flush. “Okay sweetheart? Ready to roll?” I smiled and tried my best to act cool and refined but my heart was beating like I’d run a marathon, uphill against the wind. We sped off down the road, the sudden surge of quiet power thrusting me back against the soft leather. I pulled myself forward so I could see out of the side window and our eyes met in the rear view mirror. There was a brief verbal exchange, I don’t recall what was said exactly. All I can remember is the feeling of exhilaration, the pure joy of a connection, the tingling of desire. For that short, unforgettable interval, I even allowed myself to indulge in fantasy; I was a millionaire businesswoman, hand resting on my Pierre Cardin leather briefcase, my handsome chauffeur lover skilfully weaving the Shadow past sweaty clerks and thick-ankled PAs under a cloudless Mayfair sky.
We parted company with a smile and a wave; no further words were needed. It was over all too soon, but in that moment I was smitten, and I think he knew. Looking back now, it was meant to be. The one parked in my garage is even the same colour.