The woman next to me stops on her tracks. She looks through her watery eyes, stares at the shop assistant behind the counter, and starts:
‘I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her‘ she says with an audible pain in her voice. The shop assistant smiles politely, and then grabs a pile of books and makes her way to the back of the store. She looks used to this expression of unrequited love. The woman next to me giggles, and turns to her friend to see if she got the whole thing on her phone; a thumbs up and a loud giggle later, and a man with a yellow sweater has taken her place, reciting the same monologue with the same pained expression.
You see, I am inside the Notting Hill bookshop, standing very near to the spot that Julia Roberts made her final plea to Hugh Grant. As I see a sea of tourists taking pictures, I approach the sales assistant, who seems unfazed from the commotion.
We start talking about the movie, and she tells me that the shop is not the actual place where the movie was shot. I think she must have registered the surprise in my eyes, so she adds that it is indeed the inspiration for the bookshop in the movie.
Apparently, the set designer drew the set of the travel bookshop based on this one. She also tells me at the actual location was the Kurt Geiger shop two corners down the street, even though it is unrecognisable now.
I thank her, and I keep browsing; the bookshop has a really good selection, and a charm that explains why it was the inception behind some of the most central points of the movie.
So, I pass the young girl that is now reciting the monologue in Spanish, and make my way to the Kurt Geiger shop. It is indeed unrecognisable. But just a breath away is the infamous Portobello Market, so I make my way down the stalls and take in all the views that can be seen on the first scene of the movie.
Spending the day as a tourist in your own city; spending the night seeing the Hollywood version of the places you just were. Popcorn, duvet, couch, and a finger pointing at the screen: I was there today!