Sunday, 21 May 2006

A Couple of Shocks :-(


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.

Monday, 1 May 2006

It's a Busy Old Life!

Jenny told me that as I had spent part of the year working abroad I should be able to claim a tax rebate, so I rang the tax office, filled in some forms and today the tax rebate came through yay!!! It will be going into my savings account towards ‘The Big Plan’ as Jenny and I have called our plans to travel around the world.

Moved into Ashley Court, I’ve been told that the room has been newly decorated so I can’t put any posters on the wall - oh boo, and I have a lovely one of Switzerland. The wallpaper is horrendous, heaven only knows where they got it from. I can imagine that it must be extremely expensive to decorate all the rooms but wasn’t anaglypta available in the 60's?

Emilio asked how I liked my room at Ashley Court - I didn’t dare say that the wallpaper gave me nightmares, so told him how pleased I was that the room had a balcony - he seemed surprised to hear that and said he hoped Head Office were charging me double - and I hoped he was joking..........He said he’d seen how pally I was with Gene and asked if he’d asked me out yet, as if I’d tell the management that I was going out with a guest - not even Emilio!

Len Barry is also staying here - he had a couple of UK hits with 1-2-3 and Like a Baby. He’s a very funny guy and he and Gene together are a scary pair - you never know what sort of trick they are going to pull next. Most of the time Len goes around sucking a slice of lemon - ugh! He says it’s good for the throat.

Janet has returned from Paris and we are all meeting up at Bernies’. It’s good for the three of us to get together and have a girly natter. Later we went to The Gary Owen Club in Hammersmith, where I somehow managed to lose my keys to Ashley Court - had to wait outside until someone came along to let me in the main door, then I had to disturb Harry, the caretaker to let me into my room, oo-er, not a good start. He is also going to have to have more keys cut for me.

I knew that Benny Hill lived in the flat opposite Ashley Court, we had met many times in the street, but now I am on the front and on the second floor I can see right into his first floor flat! He never closes the curtains on the huge windows so he is easily seen. I often see him playing a guitar. I wonder if he can see into my room? =:-O I shall certainly make sure the net curtains on my French windows are always in place lol!

Working my favourite shift 3.0pm - 8.0pm, spent most of the evening chatting on the phone with Gene, he suggested that he, Len Barry, myself and a friend should make up a foursome, I rang Jenny to see if she would like to come over - she said she would. Despite it being against the hotel rules, I went up the back stairs to Gene’s room where we waited for Jenny to arrive. I told Gene that I couldn’t be seen openly going out of the hotel with him and we discussed various hilarious scenarios on how to smuggle me out! But then Jenny rang to say that she wouldn’t be able to make it after all. Gene has a penchant for Grand Marnier, a very potent liqueur. We got quite squiffy on it, Len went off to his own room and Gene and I got ‘cosy’, but before things got too comfortable, I told Gene I would have to go. He was absolutely fine about it, I told him I would have to sneak down the back stairs which unfortunately happened to be at the other end of the corridor. I had got part of the way there when I heard the lift arriving at this floor, so I raced back to Gene’s room tapping urgently on the door for him to let me in. As we heard the footsteps pass, I asked Gene to see who it had been - it turned out to be Emilio! The managers suite was on the same floor! Gene kept watch whilst I scurried down the corridor to the back stairs - phew, my heart was beating like the clappers. I collected my coat from off the peg by the switchroom door, hoping no one would ask why I hadn’t yet gone home, instead the porter quipped "What - going already!" It had been nice having a little smooch with Gene (and that’s all it was!) but the ignominy of getting caught in a guests room would have been just too much to bear - I wouldn’t be doing it again!

Gene likes me to give him a wake up call around 8.0am - he told me this morning that I had kept him awake last night - eh? But wouldn’t elaborate :-/

Maybe it was guilt - thinking about another woman when he is now dating Marianne Faithfull :-(   Kathy Seaton, who I got to know through her frequent phone calls to Gene, came round to the hotel in the hope of seeing Gene, I usually let her know when he is here and when he is likely to be available. We were standing chatting by the switchroom door when Gene came

downstairs hand in hand with Marianne, on seeing us he dropped her hand and came over to say hello. Kathy was thrilled to have a little chat with him, she turned to me after they had gone and uttered the immortal words -" Doesn’t Marianne Faithfull look like you" Ha ha ha - I’ve never forgotten them. Shouldn’t think Marianne would quite agree there ;-) Actually the only similarity between us was that we both had long blond hair (but then, didn’t everyone back in the 60's?) blue eyes, fair skin and roughly the same age, but there the resemblance ended. Marianne was a tiny waif of a thing, weighing about a stone less than me, and extremely pretty with a tiny elfin face - so I was immensely flattered by Kathy’s remark.

Just as I was leaving at 3.0pm, Emilio caught me by the glass doors -"I’d like a word with you, Miss B!" I thought he had a look of mock sterness on his face until I heard him say "...and what were you up to last night, hmmm.....?"