Jorginho in London

mane

The human memory works this way… You remember mostly the good times and forget the unpleasant ones. After the Hippie surge in the sixties it became rather popular and romantic to live together and share as much as you could. Some youngsters went off to the Kibbutz in Israel, but many tried to make it work near home. When four Portuguese decided to share a flat, it was mostly for practical reasons.

Gilberto worked in a restaurant, Mané, Quim and I worked in the same disco, The Maximus, in Leicester square. We worked at night and it was a good solution to change individual digs for a larger accommodation. I do not know, who found the flat in Nevern Square, but I was responsible for the contract, most probably, because I was the only one carrying a British passport!

Living together was fun most of the times. But it seldom lasts too long. Conflicting personalities, economic issues, standards of tidiness, sense of responsibility, love of privacy, female contacts. All these aspects could and did contribute to animosity and bad feelings. But who cares about this, some 40 years passed?

I was, unlike my flat mates, in the unique situation of having family nearby. Now and then, when not working, I could visit my grandfather in Croydon and stay with him over night and even for a few days. This is most obviously what happened at Christmas in 1971 when Jorginho came to stay!

Jorge Paixão da Costa was a Lisbon neighbour to Mané and Quim from the Avenida dos Estados Unidos! At the age of sixteen, this youngster came over and was left at their responsibility. Whatever prompted Jorge’s parents to put him in Quim’s and Mané’s hands I do not know, but I recall how worried Quim was that everything would go alright with “the kid”.The picture I am publishing here shows Mané’s farewell party with Jorginho and Tony Carolo present… This took place on the 1st january 1972.

Jorge went on to study cinema in Sweden and became a successful film director in Portugal, after surviving the London experience.

Die Fledermaus or London’s disco life

Die Fledermaus

As we approached the north of Europe things began to get serious again. Holidays were over and that Interrail trip in 1972 would soon be, but memories! Mona had to go back to Sweden as she had enrolled at the Stockholm University to study English.

As for me, I was unemployed and homeless. I needed to go back to London and get my stuff together before returning to Sweden. I think I crossed over at Hoek van Holland or wherever the train connection between the continent and England was made.

Once in London I must have looked up some of my friends to get somewhere to live! I finished not far from Nevern Square and my new address was Nevern Road. I am sure I stayed with Quim Semião and slept somewhere on the floor at the same time as he gave me a hand at this place he was now managing, Die Fledermaus!

Recalling the London scene that was ours it was evidently a limited section of the world of entertainment that London offered. To us it definetly was, the centre of the world. In retrospective these discos that we knew, were all most probably struggling to survive. I recall la Poubelle and Le kilt that had French influence, La Valbonne, Ad Lib and that place we went to sometimes after work, created, as it were, for those that worked in discos and had the strength to go out and enjoy themselves, now as customers. This place was called Candy Box.

These discos are dead and buried. Nobody remembers them and looking for them on Google and other search motors will certainly draw a blank! Die Fledermaus was also struggling to survive and Quim was making the effort for someone, who still believed in it!

The brown velvet jacket

Saga     Vistos

I can only tell you that leaving Nevern Square was not easy. There were bills to pay, no right to the deposit and no new tenants to take over. Pepe was meant to look for new digs, even temporarily, but did not succeed. I finished up in Neil’s apartment near Earl’s Court’s Olympia in a sleeping bag on the floor! Neil was a working colleague from Tramp’s!

This was my situation as I awaited embarkation on Wednesday the July the 5th 1972 on MS Saga with arrival two days later in Gothenburg, Sweden! One of my most valuable possessions was a brown velvet jacket that I had bought from António, a Portuguese from the Porto area! This smart jacket would do fine for my trip and meeting Mona!

Finally the day came. I went on board and we sailed off to the new country. I was impressed to hear the Swedish language being trumpeted off the loud speakers. They were sounds, I already liked, having heard Swedish spoken innumerable times first by Åsa and Mona and later by Jannike and Ulla!

I was also impressed by the blonde kids on board that threw themselves on the pool without any measure of uncertainty! What confidence and well-being did they not express?

After arrival at about 6.30 on the 7th I had to get to the train station! The connection was done by a bus leaving the Skandia harbour at 6.50 and 7.45 to Central Railway station. The fare was 4 Swedish Crowns.

I got on the train and started my trip to Stockholm. The heat was unbearable and I could not for my life get it into my head that Sweden could be warmer than Britain. So I kept my jacket on!

 

 

Dramatic decisions

londres

The period between May and July of 1972 seemed interminable. The emotional situation of being separated from someone you are madly in love with, was toppled by many practical decisions and planning problems, some outside of my own scope.

At the beginning of this period I still a flat to live in and the plan was for Mona to come back to England and study there. As people started to leave the flat at Nevern Square I was left with the problems, as I had the contract.

I spoke to Guido the Tramp’s manager about my holiday and I was promised a week in June. If I was to come to Sweden for a week I would have to fly. The plane fare for a return to Sundsvall cost £88.On a good week I could earn up to £50. In today’s money, I have worked out, that this trip  would cost about 1170€ .

Mona was working as a telephone receptionist for the State company “Televerket”,and we rang each other as often as we could,or rather she did! I did not have a phone so we had to organize these calls on ways no one today can conceive.

Slowly the picture was clarifying… I would have to leave my job and come over to Sweden.

I left notice for the flat and tried to get some digs with Pepe. That was a waste of time!

The circles in my mind

station

Life doesn’t run on a straight line. It rather divides up into circles that meet each other and progress into new ones. On this blog I have now written over 100 texts and divided them into memories in English and in Portuguese. I have in time, stretched between 1952 and 1972, and arrived at the edge of the London circle. It will soon go over to a new one where Sweden will for the first time appear in my own set of reports. But not quite yet…

I have saved many letters from the time where these were handwritten and sent by ordinary post, generally with a specially chosen stamp that could be useful for collecting.

I am these days reading some of these letters which have filled some memory gaps.

I realize for example that I knew some people when living at Nevern Square, Earl’s Court, that I had completely forgotten about.

When the Portuguese left the flat I had to look for new tenants. The rent was high and I really needed 4 to contribute towards it. The Swedish girls now living in the flat, Jannice and Ulla were like flowers attracting bees.  A Portuguese guy called Pepe did come in but was getting in and out of work. Another guy turned up to get a bath. I believed he needed one, having the nickname Clint Eastwood, as a reference to the film” Dirty Harry”.

Live in the flat did no longer feel secure and things disappeared such as money, Mona’s camera and the likes. It felt as time was running towards getting off the circle, one way or another….

Love explained!

BrevWhen we became a couple in January 1972, Mona and I, we lived in Earl’s Court, more precisely at 10, Nevern Square. I suppose all of the readers that will stop for a moment to think will probably be able to know what I am describing here! To fall in love, to be knocked off your feet, to be under a spell, and so on! There are some expressions used to describe what is difficult to rationally understand!

“In terms of interpersonal attraction, four forms of love have traditionally been distinguished, based on ancient Greek precedent: the love of kinship or familiarity (in Greek, storge), the love of friendship (philia), the love of sexual and/or romantic desire (eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of romantic love. Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states.This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.]Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.” From Wikipedia.

Whatever the explanation for love you prefer I do not mind to admit that I was very much struck in that condition with Mona. A state of mind that is difficult to cope with, especially when the couple is not physically near each other.

And this is what happened for a period of some months leading to the summer of 1972, when Mona had left for Sweden.

I vividly recall, how in those days, when communication was still deficient or limited, the postman became my best friend. How he would find me sitting at the bottom of the stairs waiting for him to deliver the daily love letter which fortunately came as clockwork! These were the letters I waited for…and they were never enough!

Portuguese out, Swedes in!

Martini

Life in a sort of exile is not for everyone… It prompted Mané Fernandes to go back that Christmas in 1971/72. It took him to an army spell in Africa! It was different for Quim Semião. He wanted to make it and one time he even began to be known as Mr. King. He met a Swedish girl called Yvonne around this time and they were a couple for some time. Gilberto had his Swiss girlfriend and eventually they moved to her country on the Alps. I believe that both Gilberto and Quim later moved across the Atlantic to the USA. Quim did, for sure!

It all meant that that very eventful year of my 20th birthday started with the need to get new tenants for Nevern Square. Two school colleagues of Mona’s and Åsa’s needed a place, so they swiftly moved in.

These girls were wild, and I look forward to having them share some of their memories on this blog. One of the first things they did was getting a huge dog that they named Martini! This was an Afghan hound of some sort that spent most of its life hidden under a bed terrified of everything and everyone.

Ulla Hjertstedt and Jannike Beijer were our two new flat mates.  Like so many other Swedish girls they came to London for the adventure and who can blame them? I have as a teacher often given advice to my students- Take a year in another country to develop and grow on the personal level.

The way of getting to London for many of the Swedish female army was with arrival at Tillbury with start in Gothenburg aboard the MS Saga.

Being tough in Paris

800px-Trocadero_and_cemetery[1]

Two things became clear to me after visiting Paris in 1971.There was family history there and I was capable of taking brave decisions in a strange environment.

It was in 1971 and I hadn’t seen my father since leaving Portugal. He came over and headed to Maximus where we met. He also visited and approved my apartment in Nevern Square. He met a girl I was going out with called Silvia. He was given the opportunity to deliver some advice and see how I was doing!

 

It was decided that I could follow to Paris and stay there for a couple of days and then return back to London. I guess we went by car and I returned by plane.

We found a hotel with Metro connection. We went about trying to find my father’s sister’s grave near the Trocadero. We did not find it! My father had lived in Paris after the war and held very positive memories from this time. My aunt had died later and was buried there.

In the evening I decided to “do the town”. I took the underground to the centre (somewhere around the Champs Elisées) and looked for anything resembling my London world- a disco or night Club. I did find a place went in and took a drink and talked to some of the other youngsters before making my way back to the hotel. Everybody knows that socializing takes some time but I am today rather proud of myself that I could do this all on my own!

The paradigm shift

Maximus

In that autumn of 1971 my life was very much divided between 10, Nevern Square and 14, Leicester square. The Piccadilly line united my flat in Earl’s Court and my work place, Maximus Discotheque. Almost every week we paid a visit to the Ginger group’s hairdressing school in Knightsbridge where our hair dos were created and developed. And all at reduced prices! Maximus manager Jay had fixed us up with his brother who taught hairdressing at this school.

Two blue eyed girls with long blond hair in hot pants did come in one evening after pub hours. These were Mona and Åsa. They were in my opinion the two most beautiful girls that ever came into Maximus. They were childhood friends and they did not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. It was as if they were from another planet, these two nineteen year olds…

Quim and I decided that we should invite them for a date to get to learn some more about the two Nordic angels from the mysterious country of Sweden.

I was at this point completely unaware that one year later I would have married one of these girls and that this particular event would mean that my life would soon change so drastically. It was as Mona would have liked to describe it a real paradigm shift, if those words would have been put together in 1971.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find one single picture showing the entrance of maximius as it was in those days, where at one time a blond American called Mike would stand outside as a barbarian gladiator.

Nevern Square SW5

Gilinho

It is just as one thing leads to the next! As I started to work nights the question of residence was important to fix.

Earl’s Court was an ideal place for anyone without a car and no money to put down on mortgages and the like. The underground was practical and took me wherever I needed to go in the Greater London area. The place was full of restaurants and their numbers were increasing. As I moved into this area the fast food chains seemed to be doing the same. Pizza Hut, Kentucky fried chicken and a hamburger restaurant called “The hungry years” appeared.

As I recall the hamburger restaurant had the tastiest hamburgers ever and even the fried chicken tasted much better than it does today!

There were plenty of digs around so when Quim Semião and his neighbour from Lisbon, Mané Fernandes turned up in the London night scene, we had enough people to rent an apartment. This was a step forward and together with Gilinho we advanced.

My new address became 10, Nevern Square. The furnished flat had two rooms, a bathroom, a dining room and a kitchen. I do not remember anyone ever making any food there. It suited us perfectly!

Even though the rent was high we always managed to pay it. We ate out, left our clothes to the dry cleaners and turned the dining room into card playing premises. In the dining room there was a record player and some LPs to go with it.

As we all worked until 3 o’clock in the morning it’s easy to understand that day was night and night was day. In the photo, above Quim Semião and Gilberto Matos on the roof in Nevern square.

nevern