The new king of Sweden

hurst view rd

The year of 1973 was almost all spent in London! It was an eventful period. Looking at the pictures it is clear that Mona came back in the summer now evidently pregnant! At this time she would have taken Maxwell, the cat, to Sweden. During this visit a rare family gathering can be seen outside my grandparents’ house in Croydon. The reader can enjoy the two pictures on display and sort out who the photographers were.

Sometime around this time I had started a new job. Someone said a person speaking Portuguese was needed at the Banco do Brasil near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was interviewed and offered the job by the Brazilian manager. In reality I was working for the Portuguese bank BPA- Banco Portugues do Atlantico. My job was to send remittances (money) from Portuguese immigrants back to Portugal. At this time immigrant remittances were an important part of the Portuguese economy . Some of the clients came from far away as Wales with their money in cash. Every morning I awaited a fax message stating the actual exchange rate.  Someone in charge for this office once came and gave me some instructions. I kept this job right up to my final return to Sweden so when I did arrive there it was as a bank clerk.

The king of Sweden Gustav VI died on the 15th September in Helsingborg so the chap I was serving drinks to, a few months earlier at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street was now the Swedish king under the name of Carl XVI Gustav. He was crowned on the very same day of his grandfather’s death, exactly 40 years ago, yesterday.

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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!

 

 

The list

Sussie

So it was settled. After weeks of unbearable separation and innumerable telephone calls and exchange of letters a decision was taken!

I would travel to Sweden! The means of transportation it was decided, would be taking the boat from Tilbury to Gothenburg on M/S Saga! It was a new adventure as just half a year before Sweden was not on my map, all together!

Our letters should be revealing, but were they? On my mind I was trying to create a picture on my head where the people and the places could become visible! From Mona’s letters I understood that her father got up early (6 o’clock) so I should avoid ringing too late at night. Two things became also evident as they were a big worry for Mona! Drinking alcohol is very bad and only alcoholics drink and it is important not to be perceived as lazy!

Mona’s mother sent greetings and a kitten called Sussie was on every letter being Mona’s company as she wrote her letters!

Our love could not be questioned. It was strong and could not bare separations any longer! Mona worked as a telephone operator, a job she took in the summers. On her free time she went with Åsa to the Marina disco or a place called “Sommarnöje”! She complained that nothing was fun and that was also my state of mind as I wrapped up my time at Tramp’s.

I gathered some of my belongings and booked my trip with Swedish Lloyd for Wednesday the 5th of July 1972 arriving in Sweden on the 7th. From Gothenburg I would take a train to Stockholm where Mona would pick me up by car!

I got a shopping list containing the following items.

1/1 bottle of Whisky “Long John” for uncle Folke! (The reader will now wonder, as I did!)

Nailpolish (Mary Quandt) dark red

Wine gums and one Kit-kat!

That’s’ all folks…next stop Sweden!

Memory lapses

coronation--a

Memory is tricky. Some things you remember others you don’t and these, can be forever lost, if not registered. I am going through the letters between Mona and I, in May and June of 1972.

I have discovered that I have no memory of a certain Pepe that shared the flat in 1972 when Mona and Åsa went back to Sweden. I had also forgotten that many people owed me money and that this caused difficulties for me as I needed it. Perhaps that is the reason even today, that it upsets me, to have to remind people that they need to pay their debts. Accordingly I try to settle any debts to others as soon as possible.

Someone wisely once said,” never borrow, never lend and you’ll never lose a friend”

In our letters we expressed the longing and the uncertainties of any couple in love but torn by distance and insecurity. As the weeks passed and the longing grew, it was decided that I would leave my job at Tramp’s to come to Sweden. By this time I was beginning to get tired of some customers at the club who in drunkenness had little manners or consideration for the staff.

I reported to Mona from the royal table at Tramp’s and could tell that the Prince had heard that I was connected to Sundsvall and I became known as Sundsvall without having been there. As to his bachelor situation it was evident that the chase for women or potential wives was there.

As you are not, dear reader, all alone in perusing through this blog pages I can now leave you some data concerning the blog. Number of viewings is today 5,186. 124 comments have been left and I have written over 100 texts in English and in Portuguese. People in 46 countries have visited the blog and visits top 5, are as follows. Sweden 1971, Portugal 1882, UK 460, USA 306 and Luxembourg 90. Thank you for your interest.

 

El Gay Sombrero

 

sombrero

My blog really appreciates comments! Åsa has shared some memories from our time in London in 1972 and it gave me a flashback or two. Still very dim it touches on the subject of gayclubs in London. What I remember is that I went there once with one of my waiter colleagues at Tramp’s. He was Spanish and perhaps called José. I really do not remember. I do recall that he had on a very flashy and glittering top when we walked in to this cellar place at 142 ,Kensington High Street. It was the basement underneath a restaurant called El Sombrero.

This was a disco and it did not take me long to realize that it was meant for rather expressive homosexuals!

 Åsa recalls that together with her boyfriend Desmond we had decided to meet there and that the couple tried to get in but was denied entrance. They stood there and couldn’t really understand why they couldn’t’ get in! I honestly do not recall playing this prank on Åsa and Desmond, but she does, and consequently I have but to admit that we must have done it to have some fun! Åsa has googled and found out that this joint was really called “Yours or mine”.

One of its particularities was that in order to spend a night there consuming drinks and to comply with the law everyone was served a thin slice of pork and some coleslaw on a paper plate!

Reading on it was visited by well known people in the London music scene such as Mick and Bianca Jagger, Angie and David Bowie, etc.

Sorry Åsa!

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 Swedish Crown Prince

tramp restaurant

I have been giving some accounts of my intensive but short career as a waiter at Tramp in Jermyn Street. This incident is worth telling for many reasons, but mainly because of the incredible number of coincidences related to it.

The DJ at Tramp was Cyril Hines, an Irishman of whom I did not know much. One evening he came to me rather excited and asked if I knew who I was serving. I didn’t…It was a party of some six or seven people, they had ordered champagne!

He went on.- You’re serving the Crown Prince of Sweden, man! That I thought was interesting considering Mona , my girlfriend was also Swedish. Wait until I tell her, I thought to myself.

Cyril’s knowledge of the world started to impress me. Myself, I have to admit, wasn’t sure of the form of government in Sweden and much less recognizing any people in the Swedish Royal family. So I had to ask. – How do you know this, Cyril? Simple he said -My wife is Swedish and I have lived there! Well, that was an explanation I could buy. I told him my girlfriend was also Swedish. We did not fall in the arms of each other but we had found something in common. -Where does your wife come from in Sweden, I wondered?

-Well, Cyril said, you wouldn’t possible know it- It’s just very small place in the north…-And the name is? –Sundsvall, he said!

So there you have it! His wife Irene and my girlfriend Mona came from the same town. Cyril was well known in Sundsvall because he had been working in several discos including the most popular one- Marina!

As to the illustrious guests I did tell them that my girlfriend was Swedish and they showed genuine interest as they quietly and orderly enjoyed their evening at Maximus in 1972.

Bianca and April

tramp lounge

Two of the owners of the Tramp’s club in Jermyn Street , Mr. Gold and Mr. Lerman, were often present and whereas Gold played the host, Lerman and wife were more on the socializing role. Lerman was married to actress and writer Jackie Collins and she was, at least in 1972, what we would call a regular.

In the kitchen there was Brazilian Willy and one of the headwaiters I recall was Italian Franco who could make delicious spaghetti.

At one time  I was in charge of the lounge which was directly at the bottom of the stairs. This meant I could see who would come in and the way in which they would be greeted by Mr. Gold. There probably was a difference between a rather over refreshed sex operated April Ashley and the beautiful and eye catching Bianca Jagger, at that time married to Mick.

The whole idea of Tramp was for the guests to feel completely relaxed in that atmosphere. There was little risk that someone would ask anyone for an autograph and as to dress code it was up to each and every one to come as they liked even if the two I have mentioned above, did have the capacity to draw attention to themselves due to their choice of fashion creations.

The music was not what I was used to, from the soul and Motown influenced Maximus. The choice was very much left to the professional tastes of contracted DJ. And that was Cyril Hines!

apriljagger      April and Bianca

Members only

tramp entrance

I was employed at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street. This club had been opened in 1969 by Johnny Gold, Oscar Lerman and the third owner was a Bill Ofner.  I have come to understand that many in the staff are still there, even though the ownership has changed. The concept has been kept and I presume it is as hard to get in now, as it was back in 1972 when I worked there. At the inconspicuous door you would have found Shah, the tall and handsome Pakistani doorman. But the rules were clear! In order to get in you needed to be accompanied by a member or be one yourself. Many people prepared to pay a fortune to get in had to turn back at the door.

If we are to touch the subject of money and we should, I would say that I received a salary while working at Tramp’s. It wasn’t very high but our rather good salaries were produced by the addition of handsome tips, that were divided at the end of each week, after a model, with the manager getting most then the head waiters and finally the rest of the staff. When bills were paid the tips would be directly placed into a box and this was the reason why we were not to wear trousers with pockets.

It was exciting, each evening, to know what celebrity would turn up and I can admit that some evenings there were very well known people there and that this was a motive of curiosity for the staff. “My first celebrity” was Harry Belafonte, but many would follow and I shall in future blogs tell some more episodes of interest connected with this period and what I can recall.

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!