Passport stamps do not lie! Because of them we know that the newlywed couple Mona and João, did not stay long in Stockholm in that cold and windy autumn of 1972. Something made Mona decide she wanted to quit University and digs at 5,Forskarbacken. She suggested we should go back to England. I did not feel that our situation was worth defending, so I agreed.
London was, after all, our hometown, together… According to the stamp, we left on the 2nd December on what I recall was a charter flight with hotel. The hotel was somewhere in the Elephant and Castle area. We got about looking for a room or flat as soon as we arrived. Eventually we moved in to Mornington Avenue. It was a small basement room, furnished and clean. There were some green bushes and grass outside the window. We were quite comfortable and even grandfather Dadda glasses and Pat came to visit.
We both went about looking for employment and we had contact with Rodolfo and Luisa just down the road.
Twenty year olds could get work those days. I registered at an employment agency and was sent to different places like a big publicity company and a council office where boring work had to be done! A new life was evolving where an old one had just been left behind!
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!
After meeting the Portuguese I started to move away from the City and naturally from Barnes that was a quiet place and a bit far from where the action was.
The new contacts meant that it became logical, practical and economic to move together. It all started with late nights in the West End mainly on weekends, that gradually increased in intensity as I started to make some money working in Discotheques. I’ll have the opportunity to come back to that subject, but now I am more interested to describe my first real love affair.
Most boys aspire at doing their debut with a female partner as soon as possible and it is of great importance that this is a positive experience. It is certainly a nervous one! It is an advantage if this girl should be a bit older and more experienced.
Living at West Cromwell Rd 3 we had Gilberto Matos and Tony (the Setubal guys). Opposite them lived another Portuguese, Rodolfo Fonseca. He was studying automobile engineering and was a few years older than everybody else. Truth is, we thought he was ancient, being around the age of 25. At any rate everybody got along with Rodolfo. He was social and we had great fun at his place. We just didn’t let him in on our nightly excursions!
He kept a tight watch on the females and had spoken several times about this beautiful Russian neighbor living in our building, on the top floor. I was obviously interested and thought of her, as well beyond my reach. But she was nice and curious and before long I was invited to her room and discussed many questions and shared common interest in languages and cultural matters. She was older than me and spending her time in London, getting educated. But what was the story of this sophisticated Russian with long black hair?
It turned out she was Armenian, not at all Russian, and had lived in one of the emirates where her family lived. In the Christmas period of 1970 we became a couple to my friends’ amazement and my own great sense of accomplishment. I was in love, but it wouldn’t last!
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.