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!
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….
Earl’s Court 4/5 1972
I waited until that wretched boat that took you away departed, but I could not catch a last glimpse of you.
My throat went dry and I could not speak properly for about twenty minutes, I hope you cried.
I am very sad and miss you a lot already. I love you and I feel as if I have been left alone in life, again.
Please come back very quickly and don’t ever forget me.
Lots of love
P.S- I will phone Sunday or Monday bet. 5 & 6.
(The boat was the Saga, the place Tillbury docks, the feelings genuine)
It’s a fact. Earl’s Court was a great place to be in the beginning of the seventies. Near to everything and with the underground station serving the most important lines- District and Piccadilly- who needed a car? Plenty of restaurants, a bookstore, Wimpy bars, Pizza Hut and other fast food giants, launderette and Drycleaners, Pubs, in short, the ideal place for the common bachelor with little money to live his adventures.
Some excitement was at times provided when travelling without a ticket on the tube. If caught we were tourists and once when Gilberto Matos was stopped in Piccadilly and asked to produce a ticket he did not have, and pressed to answer where he came from- the answer popped out as Portugal instead of Earl’s Court! Great times, with lots of laughter and perhaps not as carefree as one would like to remember it today! We were, in short, on our way somewhere but not quite sure what it would be.
The reader of my blog has been able to follow a period of my life between 1952 and 1972. Twenty years of memories that I try to recall and share in a way that others might find interesting. I have tried to keep faithfull to my original idea to keep texts short and keep them coming. Up to today I have published 95 texts and they have been viewed 4130 times. Most of the views are from Sweden (1570) tightly followed by Portugal (1447), UK comes third with (386). I have hits from 41 countries. I have no idea how frequent people visit this blog or who they are, unless they make comments, but I wish to express to all, my thanks for looking in!
When 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!
Life in Earl’s Court was good. We had our own apartment. Four guys ( Quim, Mané, Gilberto and I) shared two rooms, bathroom, living room and I am quite sure there was a kitchen. Like all other type of sharing it had its inconveniences. These were related to having hardly any privacy and being constantly dependent on what everybody else felt like doing.
It is easy to understand how one could easily fasten in this make believe life. Fortunately none of us were doing drugs. I think everyone smoked and there was no special relation to alcohol.
During a period of time it all circulated round long nightly card games to the continuous sound of Santana’s “Abraxas” or Deep Purple’s “Fireball” albums. The card game in question is for four players known to most Portuguese as King. This game consists of two parts where the first is to avoid winning different things and the second to make points. When the counting was done there were losers and winners. These games were played for money. Generally we would sit after 3 in morning returned from our nightly jobs and went on for a couple of hours. Sometimes there was more company sometimes not…How I ever had the stamina to live this kind of life I really do not know today.
When we eventually got up it would be about midday and time to deal with the strenuous daily tasks of looking for somewhere to eat and to pick up any clothes left at the dry cleaners.
My favorite restaurant was “The Hungry years” right on Earl’s Court Rd. Their hamburgers were the best I have ever eaten and besides choosing the weight you had to choose between some twenty odd different delicious sauces!
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.
For some inexplicable reason I bought myself a diary in the beginning of 1971. I also kept it updated until the 20th April. I was to meet a Patsy at 8.30 p.m. at Earl’s Court tube station that day. Who this Patsy was I have no clue. Did she turn up? Did she not turn up and this event prompted me to stop writing on this diary? If I had been murdered I am sure the annotations on the diary would have been of utmost importance to solve the case. If I was a suspect in some crime it would also been of importance to examine these annotations.
Some important facts did get mentioned in the beginning of 1971. On the 16th of March I obtained my first British passport to the cost of £5.00.It took only four working days to produce. I also discover what sort of paperbacks I was ploughing through. On the 18th January I bought J.P. Donleavy’s “Meet my Maker the Mad Molecule” and on the 26th H.G.Wells’ ”The island of Dr Moreau” and sometime during the second week in February I read and enjoyed beyond everything else “The picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. I’m pretty sure I still have some of these books lying around.
Another landmark was my moving to 12, West Cromwell Rd where I shared a room with Rodolfo Fonseca after his room mate Simões went and got married. This move was completed was on Saturday the 13th March.
On 16th of April I went to the cinema with Hopy to see “The last valley” whatever that was…Two days later she informed me she was soon moving to Paris. Our stormy relationship had lasted 4 months and I wouldn’t have been without it!