Sarilhos sim senhores…

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Staff.

Cá estamos nós na Côte d’Azur.Passamos uma vida porreira.Fartamo-nos de roubar coisas. Espero que este postal não te cause sarilhos, bem é que foi tambem fanado, especialmente para ti. Nós devemos chegar aí dia 17 ou mais tardar dia 18.

Beijinhos Carlos, Nelson e Zé

Foi este o texto que apareceu na casa em Barnes, Londres, onde alugava um quarto à senhora Meltzer mais ou menos no dia 15 de agosto de 1969. A Sra. Meltzer, viúva de uns 65 anos, alugava quartos e tambem estava incluído na renda de 6 Libras e 6 shillings o pequeno almoço à inglesa. O que terá a Sra . pensado do postal que lhe entrou pela caixa do correio mostrando uma francesa nudista da ilha do Levant- nunca cheguei a saber.  Mas que este trio causava sarilhos, causava.

Farewell Dennis

Pollards hill

Most of us learn in time to understand that we all are different. Uncle Dennis and I did not always hit it well, but whether it was for conflicting personalities or the flow of circumstances is not important any longer. I choose today to remember you, Dennis Frith, for the man you were, and my memories attached to you.

My first encounter, that I remember, was visiting the family in the late fifties at your house in Thornton Heath. I remember that from the back window I could see a large cemetery. But most of all you made cakes at home. I believe somehow that you were beginning your successful career in the business of pastry. The smell and looks of sugar icing and whipped cream is something that no child can ignore. You were never one for hanging around chatting as I recall!

I did however get a better picture of you, when I took my big step, of starting a new life in 1968. Then, you and auntie Dot played a main role. By this time you had built up a considerable activity with several shops in the south of London and own production in what was called Frtith’s Patisserie. Your home and kitchens were in Barnes, so that’s where I came. You fixed me up with a room at Mrs Meltzer’s and gave me my first employment working at your office in Richmond. No one would ever ignore how important this was for me to start off my life as an adult.

Your favourite song was, for along time, Cliff Richard’s “Living Doll” and you did never miss an episode of the Forsythe Saga on television.

By this time you played tennis and had a passion for antiques. You were always in the look for a rare old painting and meticulously learned more. Whatever you did had a purpose and was well in line with the self made man you were. Rest in peace and thank you.

Foot note- In this picture from left to right- My grandmother Bua, auntie Dot, uncle Bernard, uncle Dennis, and my grandmother Dorothy Begernie Ineichen. Standing behind- my father João and my grandfather Joseph Ineichen. The picture was probably taken in 1951 in connection with my parents marriage on the 14 July.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN9NuSj43s

 

 

Tramp’s in Jermyn Street

 

tramp5

It was sometime in that winter/ spring of 1972 that I heard that they were looking for waiters at the Tramp Club in 40,Jermyn Street!

We booked a time and I came in for an interview with the manager,an elegant and slim Italian called Guido. I recall his hair was rather long on top almost falling over his eyes. He gave a boyish impression of someone not much older than me.

He asked me if I had waiting experience.  I obviously replied YES to that question, and described my time as a potman at the Red Lion in Barnes and my Maximus experience which was everything but waiting at tables.

Somehow Guido decided to give me a chance on a trial basis! I was to come in sometime before opening and do some cleaning which included all the premises (toilets included) and then I was given an area in which to work- a few tables that I should look after.Attention to the customers was important and lighting up cigarettes was part of my tasks.

I was to come in dressed on a white polo and black trousers without pockets. I would very soon  understand the reason for that!

The staff was friendly and so was the whole atmosphere, very relaxed considering there was absolutely no dress code. Once down the stairs,there was a small restaurant, a lounge and a main room where the disc jockey worked facing the dance floor. There were some tables all around the beautiful wooden carved walls!

I did my waiting with some difficulties, considering it was all new to me! On my tables there was no food being served.Only drinks… Every drink that was ordered cost 40p whether it was milk or whisky. After a week Guido said he wasn’t happy. We had a chat and I guaranteed improvement. I asked him for a new opportunity. It was conceded, so I stayed on!

The Portuguese connection

Portugal

What would you say, occupies the minds of most boys and young men? Exactly, it didn’t take you long to work that one out! Girls!!!! During my first years in London I had a normal hunting spell and did one or another conquest. I probably could say that I was in love almost at all times. I do not recall when that state of mind started, only that the objects of my attention varied on who I was in love with. Is this normal? I really couldn’t tell but we will come back to that theme…Be so sure!

 After leaving Mrs. Meltzer I had to look for new digs. I remember I answered a few ads around the Hammersmith area but without great success. Eventually I found out about Mr. and Mrs. Whyte, a Scottish couple in Kitson Rd. Barnes. They rented a room with access to a kitchen pantry and there was a gas heater that worked if you put in some coins. The arrangement worked for me and there was a launderette nearby, which also was useful.

 In the course of 1970 new things started to happen and it meant the beginning of the Portuguese connection. I cannot right now recall what came first and how one encounter led to the next but at least following people need to be mentioned. Mário Soveral, Gilberto Matos and Rodolfo Fonseca. Later Joaquim Semião and  Mané Fernandes. I am quite sure that these were an important part for the development of the connection and the events that followed in coming years. I am now trying to trace down some of these London friends and hopefully they’ll turn up to help make this story more complete.

Goodbye Westmoreland Rd

westmoreland rd

My bed and breakfast arrangements lasted just about one year before Mrs. Meltzer kindly asked me to leave. My landlady had taken good care of me even though she never succeeded in making me fully appreciate a proper English breakfast.

Together with Fritz the Swiss pastry chef we would sit in the living room, watch television and drink tea. It was in that same living room and on her TV set that we saw the first steps on the moon! Why kick me out, then?

 After almost one full year without hearing Portuguese I recall how I suddenly heard some people talking around the Piccadilly area and I felt it sounded too familiar. I spoke to them and remembered how difficult it had become to get the words out. Soon after this some friends of a friend from back home came in contact with me! Carlos and Nelson! They would be in London to enjoy part of their summer holidays.

These guys were completely crazy. They just didn’t seem to have any restraints. They had fun at everything and everybody. And they were funny! They were what one could say a laugh! And I laughed!  As a part of their senseless behavior they were also caught shoplifting in Oxford Street.

They were charged and when asked for an address gave mine not understanding that it would become a notice on the Barnes and Mortlake Herald! So goodbye Mrs. Meltzer and goodbye, Westmoreland Rd.

The Hammersmith Odeon

Hammersmith_Odeon

 Many people I know, couldn’t imagine going to the cinema on their own. Same thing concerning travelling! That’s not the case, as far as I’m concerned. I have throughout my life done these things on my own and not found it tedious in any way. Whether this is part of my personality or just something I have become used to, I couldn’t tell.

 I have enjoyed going to the cinema and continued to enjoy it when I moved to London. The main destiny was, when living in Barnes, the Hammersmith Odeon. The Odeon is huge and functioned as a cinema but also saw the visit of world artists since inauguration in 1932. It is now known as “The Hammersmith Apollo”.

 At weekends I would go and see films at the Odeon. Some titles of the day, remain still today. A favourite was Steve McQueen and his “Thomas Crown Affair” and “Bullit” were seen there. “Candy”, “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” and “Midnight Cowboy” I also remember from this time!

 Two concerts I saw there were those with The Beach Boys in May 1969 and Ray Charles in the same year. These were two fantastic concerts.

 The problem of going to the cinema alone was that I could attract the attention of men. One particular incident I remember was a man coming to sit next to me after an interval and spreading his coat too much over to my seat. As I was beginning to feel uncomfortable I felt a heavier weight on my leg. When I looked down his hand was resting on my leg. I got up and went (I might add) and sat on a place further back. Being 17 years old and doing things alone was not without risks.

The lonely teenager!

St. OsmondWhen I started my life in London I lost all my friends from Portugal. It was necessary to build up a new social network from scratch! My aunt Dorothy was aware of this and tried to suggest some ways of getting there.

One activity that had worked well for her when she was young was to go skating. There was a big hall in Richmond and I believe I went there with my cousins Stephen and Louise. I had never been on ice. We rented the skates there and it was all a question of getting forward as all the others swirled past me at great speeds. I held on to the railings as long as possible. It must have been an amusing sight…so amusing that some girls decided to push me just as I was beginning to get the hang of it.

Another activity was at the local gathering of teenagers at the St. Osmond’s Catholic Church just down the road in Castelnau. They had a piano and I suppose I made up I could play a few notes. Truth is, there was a girl that was talking to me and seemed genuinely interested in my playing progress. So far so good… But my luck was short-lived. A group of three boys with short hair were waiting for me outside the hall and successfully chased me away from the youth club. It all boiled down to a quick retreat through the streets of Barnes!

It is not easy to break into someone else’s turf!

How I became a potman!

redlionbarnes

Another pub in Barnes is the Red Lion.This is a recent picture of the pub and I have not found any from around 1970. Here is an account on how I was employed some evenings collecting glasses from the tables and earning a pound a night for it.My job as a potman!

I was working in the City and had gone over to monthly pay. After deductions I would get around £40. For some reason I had this money in cash.

Eager to have friends I once invited two boys of the same age as me, to my digs at Mr. and Mrs. Whyte’s. i had just been paid.I do not know if they had observed me having the money in my wallet… I had to leave my room to boil the water for the tea. That’s when they must have taken the money. When I discovered this the next morning it was a big shock for me. At first I was convinced I must have lost it… When I realized that the money was stolen I could not know if they both had been involved. The main question now was- How was I going to survive the rest of the month?

At this time the Red Lion had employed a blind pianist. He was Boogie-Woogie inspired and his evenings were very popular. My job was to serve him with drinks and to collect everybody’s glasses as they got empty. I became rather popular with the guests and some were eager to buy me a pint or two. My routines got worse and I had difficulty in getting to work on time or be sufficiently alert for my job at the insurance brokers. Still, I survived those difficult months earning money to keep me going from day to day. Sometime later I heard that one of the boy’s had been taken by the police for breaking an entry.

If I were a potman..trallalalalalalalla!

My encounter with a film star!

One of the pubs in Barnes is the Sun Inn. In front of it, there is a park with a pond. This park was the sort of place some of us teenagers used to hang around not being able to afford to go inside. Anyway it was a good meeting point. Especially in the summer, pub visitors would go across the street and have their drinks there.

A big car (I think it was a Bentley) once stopped there and two men and a woman came out. After a while they came over and sat on the park bench holding enormous fruity drinks. The man with the rounded, reddish head was very talkative. He was obviously courting this female as he made poetry and jokes. He had a slight Irish accent. The other, a tall man didn’t say as much.

As I stood nearby somewhat interested, the talkative man dared me to run on a race around the pond. This was probably a show of virility. The prize was a drink of Pimm’s number 1, a drink based on Gin. I readily accepted and off we went. I was well ahead of him as he stopped and went back conceding defeat. The taller man went across the street and brought a well-deserved glass of Pimm’s.

After some more declamations like “men have got pips and women have got tits”, they drove  away and I never saw them again.

Some of my friends then approached, green of envy, and said- Do you know who you’ve been talking to? – No!  Well it was Richard Harris, the actor! –Oh yeah!

Barnes pond

Barnes- the arrival!

Barnes mapMy arrival in London on the 11th September 1968 was a turning point in my life. My nervous state arriving at the airport only got worse when the immigration officer started to enquire about when I would be back in school in Portugal. Inside I was shaking but I do not know what it looked like on the outside!

It was the last push off the nest, but I felt I was prepared. In my sixteen year old head there was a will to make it work, but I needed help. ..My Uncle Dennis and Aunt Dorothy provided this first help. It was brave of them and not without problems. With two own children to bring up, my cousins Stephen and Louise, it was an extra responsibility for them to take on. I am glad they helped me on those first struggling steps into a new world, the adult one.

Uncle Dennis owned at this time a chain of Patisseries spread over southern London. The bakery was very near their home in Barnes. Frith’s Patisseries Noisette employed pastry chefs from Switzerland. I was then presented with where I would live and how I would finance my stay. I would be staying at 54, Westmoreland Rd. Barnes, at the home of Mrs. Meltzer who already had a couple of the Swiss boys as lodgers. The deal was bed and breakfast and certain hours to be maintained as Mrs. Meltzer had to let me in. This would cost med £4 a week. How was I to pay such a huge amount of money? My uncle then informed me that he was prepared to give me employment and pay me 6 guineas a week. This was to me a huge sum from someone who practically never had owned more than a pound at a time. After all, I only spent money on cigarettes and sweets. I was to help out with different chores at the head office in Richmond. I was also expected to enroll for evening classes there, which I did.

It was a fair deal and I was happy with the arrangement! I travelled by bus and enjoyed my new independent life. If I took the bus down Castelnau I would cross the bridge to Hammersmith, which was a larger community and had underground trains and cinemas. Teenage kids were at this time very influenced by the skinhead culture and the reggae music. It would take some time to get friends and to fully understand to adapt and integrate in this new society. My determination not to look back would see me through! Happy New Year!