I was horrified - so he HAD seen me! Was there a bit of a cheeky twinkle in his eye or not? I decided the best thing was to pretend I didn’t know what he was talking about, he just grinned and didn’t pursue the matter, but from then on kept referring to my friend Gene.
Despite the inhospitable hours we work and a hectic lifestyle, we still like to keep fit, so I have joined a health club on Knightsbridge - and I walk there and back! My new friends at Ashley Court - Alison & Jackie have taken up ice skating, so a crowd of us go over to Queens whenever we can all get together. I’m not very good, never did have much balance, but it’s a lot of fun. One of the crowd is a young man called John, he’s not bad at skating and comes to my rescue and holds me up. I’d seen him in the bar a few times, but he was always so quiet and didn’t seem to want to join in with us mad lot. John shares a huge room just along the corridor from me, with Brian and David. The room has a very high ceiling with ornately decorated mouldings, I would love to have seen Ashley Court when it was a private house. Brian is one of those rare people who have a car, and he can park it right outside, no problems parking in those days! Some times we will all pile in and go off to the Ice rink at Richmond, just for a change.
I was at the health club one day when CBS came filming for American newsreel. This sort of thing happened a lot, there was always some sort of filming going on in the streets of London, and German and Japanese film crews were often at the 100 Jazz Club in Oxford Street - my second home lol! What fun it would be to see those films now :- )
Jackie and Alison are a fun pair of gals, and we tend to knock around with the same people - Rennie, Lionel, John, Brian, David and Neil, or whoever isn’t working, and we have decided to go on a pub crawl on Sunday morning. We started off at the famous Spaniard’s Inn at Hampstead, then the Bull & Bush. Went for a stroll on Hampstead Heath, playing hide & seek amongst the trees, unfortunately this resulted in our losing half the group, but some of us had to get to work for the late shift, so we hoped the others would make their own way back. It had been an hilarious morning!
Jenny rang, had long chat, she tells me that she would like to become an air hostess and has applied to Pan Am Airways, she says she would rather see the world that way - so ‘Big Plan 65' is off!Naturally I’m very upset, it has been so much fun planning it, but I can understand how Jenny feels, she wants me to apply too, but I am uncertain about my lack of language skills. You have to be able to converse in at least one other language and my meagre knowledge of Italian and German just would not suffice. Jenny has school girl French which she is brushing up on and a reasonable knowledge of Swedish, due to her having a Swedish pen pal and having been engaged to a Swedish boy, albeit for a very short time, but she had intended being able to converse with what she thought were going to be her in-laws. I should be tempted but I always like to do my own thing, I can’t follow other people’s desires, no matter how attractive they might seem.
No longer having something to plan and work towards has come as a big shock, but worse was to follow........
Emilio has been very up and down temperamentally lately, looking straight through me one minute then being very familiar with me the next, can’t say the same about his pal Andrew tho’ - he seems a totally different person, always friendly and smiling and saying ‘Hello Freda’ whenever he rings or comes in the hotel. Just can’t get over it!
Then all became clear......
I really was a complete ingenue - I had so much to learn.
I was on the late shift and Andrew had come round to see Emilio, Andrew popped his head round the door of the switchroom to say hello and ask me to let Emilio know that he’d arrived. On this occasion they were going elsewhere to have dinner, I got the impression they were meeting up with friends. Emilio was in good spirits, and I said I hoped they had a good evening.
Jack, the night porter came in the switchroom and was all for bad mouthing Emilio but I wasn’t having any of it. He raised his brows and said ‘Oh, well you would take that attitude, wouldn’t you.’ If he meant because I just happened to like Emilio, despite his temperament, then he was right, I hated the way everyone seemed to speak ill of him and treated him with such contempt. And I told Jack so. ‘ Well you used to live with a pair of ‘em, didn’t you?’ My heart began to beat very loudly in my chest. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked him, but not wanting to know the answer. ‘ They’re a pair of queers, aren’t they?’ he responded and I could hear the disgust in his voice as he said the word ‘queers’. I could feel my face going red and my silence must have spoken volumes. ‘Oh come on, you must have known’ he jeered. Well I hadn’t known, and I was still finding it hard to believe. Emilio and Andrew? In my eyes I couldn’t imagine two less likely people. Queers, Pansies, Poofs, as they were more commonly known then, where pretty obvious, weren’t they? I had seen the occasional one, usually in Soho, in their flamboyant clothes, coiffed hair and theatrical air, rather like Dickie when he was being silly. Although I have to admit that out in the big world, I doubt if the man in the street realised that Pat & Dickie where homosexuals - especially Pat with his wild curly hair and macho beard. I always thought that these sort of people stood out a mile, it was also an orientation that I simply could not understand. Both Emilio and Andrew were very attractive young men, I felt rather sad that they were lost to we females.
I did not understand how men could be attracted to men, and women being attracted to women - even less. I just could not get my head around it, it all seemed so pointless. I did feel dreadfully sorry though for the way people who were ‘different’ were treated. I understood now why Emilio did not get any respect and I vowed to be even nicer to him from now on. It eventually became clear to me that Andrew had gone through life distrusting everyone, and had erected an icy shield around himself for his own preservation. Once he’d realised that I was friendly with Emilio and not a threat - the ice melted. It was obvious that Emilio needed all the friends he could get, and to have someone like myself who didn’t treat him with derision was not to be sniffed at.
February 13th is Eugen’s birthday, so I’ve got a nice big card for him and asked everyone at Stratters to sign it. I rang him to wish him a happy birthday, he said he was going to go home for a couple of weeks and why didn’t I go too? As the ‘Big Plan’ is now off, I have a bit of spare cash, so I said yes, I thought it was a great idea.