Sunday, 10 June 2018

Teenage Rocks

"Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin' ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock"


In 1963 I went to Paris with two schoolfriends. A third schoolfriend was already there, selling the New York Herald Tribune on the Champs Elysees.
The newspaper flogger had a student room. We resided in a small room in a cheap hotel. My two friends had the bed.
I slept on a camp bed next to a bidet that smelt like it was connected to a sewer.

I did not like Paris then.
People used to stare at me because my hair was a bit too long for their comfort zone. 1963 was the very beginning of the musical and cultural revolution, and the frogs were not yet into it.

Everything was so expensive. We used to buy food and water at a supermarket whose name for us was pricks unique ("prix unique"). Then we would sit outside eating our bread and cheese and drinking our water.
Quite a few people commented on that. Fortunately, my French was not good enough to understand the finesses of what they were saying.

I stayed on after my two friends returned to London.
On one of my walkabouts I met an American who was a few years older than me. Nice chap from Connecticut. He was travelling around Europe on his own.
We teamed up for the rest of my stay in Paris.

After Paris he was going to stopover in London for a few days. I offered take him on an evening tour of the Big Smoke's hot spots. He accepted my offer.

A week later we met up at Piccadilly Circus tube station. I then proceeded to show him Soho, London’s nefarious den of iniquity and moral turpitude.
We went into a coffee bar for a drink. There were no free tables, so we sat down at a table where a man was finishing a salad.
He was an American in his late forties who was also travelling around Europe on his own. A friendly middle-aged man who wanted to chat.

The "old man" said he had once been young and idealistic. As strong as a rock. However, life had destroyed his youthful ideals and strength.
Then he started to give us advice about women. One remark he made has stuck in my mind. It was, “you are lucky, you can get it for free. I have to pay for it”.

After he left, we laughed about him. What a silly old fogey who talked too much. We would never be like that. 
Nowadays, I think his remark may have a deeper philosophical significance.

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