About a year ago, I was walking to the tube station, when a little flash of colour caught my eye. A pink paper heart, pinned to a tree. DEN 4 ANGIE.
CHARLENE 4 SCOTT. Another power couple of the 80s, tacked to the frame of an informational poster in the entrance to the station. Had it been there all week without me noticing, or was it a new feature?
My inner monologue turned from “huh” to “hmm“.
Art installation? Social experiment? Scavenger hunt? Time traveller?
RYAN 4 BLAKE. Both a pattern maker, and a pattern breaker. Leather, not paper. A golden couple – but contemporary, and real. Or… Is it a biting social commentary on the artificiality of Hollywood? Are Blake and Ryan as real as Scott and Charlene? Am I overthinking this?
Again, I was tortured by my own lack of observational skills. Was it new, or not?
I tried the internet. Ealing hearts. Mystery hearts. Ealing heart scavenger hunt. WHAT IS GOING ON?
Walking home one evening, I suddenly veered wildly off course because I could see a flash of white on a tree across the green. When I got to it, it was a tattered scrap of paper – but just rounded enough to make me convinced it had once been a heart.
Weeks later, on the very top corner of a phonebox, another one: ARIEL 4 ERIC. I don’t know if I’ve deleted the photo or if I stopped myself from ever taking one for the sake of my own mental wellbeing, but trust me. It was there.
And they all stayed there. For weeks and weeks and weeks. Taunting me with their unknowable meaning.
Who had put them there? Why? For who? Were they stood at a window somewhere, watching me with steepled fingers and a self-satisfied cackle?
Weeks turned to months. Mostly, I made my peace with the hearts. I landed on a theory that they had been part of a love-themed scavenger hunt designed as a bonding activity on a hen do.
I was happy, you guys. I had found resolution.
Or so I thought.
Two weekends ago, Jo and I went for lunch, then headed out separate ways for shopping and errands and admin. She went into Savers; I turned to go down the road.
A sudden spike of adrenaline. Was it shock, delight or horror?
I scuttled into Savers.
“Jo! Jo, there’s a heart! There’s a heart! Come and look! QUICK!!!”
She came surprisingly quickly. She thought I was telling her about a harp.
But no. A heart. Stuck high on a wall.
We gazed at it.
“It’s blank, though, isn’t it? It’s not actually one of the same hearts. It’s just a generic heart shaped sticker. Isn’t it?”
It was, we agreed. Nothing to link it to last year’s hearts other than my overactive imagination and mild paranoia.
So we went about our lives. Happy, untortured.
This morning, I missed the tube in the worst possible way: where it pulls out of the station just as you step foot on the platform. There was no need for me to have missed it. I’d been running on time, but suddenly: there it was.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
I am full of frustrated intrigue. Do you think Starlee Kine would come and solve this for me?
It is four weeks until I move out of Ealing. I want answers.