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2012 in review

12 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Unplanned Obsolescence. By Thom Topham. Chapter 7.

17 Jan

Chapter 7.  Homo and Away.

“Ibiza. 21.8.1988.

Es Cavallet, the gay nudist beach, has changed a lot from when I first came here in the late 70s. Then, there was nothing but the sea, the dunes and the acres of fragrant pine forest behind.  Then the next time I came – in the early 80s –  a ramshackle hut had materialised and became an ad hoc bar – with half an old oil drum used as a barbecue. Now, however, there’s a fully-fledged  brick-built, white-painted restaurant with a large paved terrace under a pergola thatched with reeds to shade people from the sun, and two bars.  There are even toilets and showers.  The menu is extensive and rather expensive  – lots of fresh seafood  – and there’s a wide range of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails. I never drink in the day, even on holiday – I more than make up for it at night though.   Next time I come, I won’t be surprised to see a marina and a swimming pool here!

It was very busy when I arrived. Relatively big waves because of an unusually brisk breeze.  Azure sea and sky. Soft, white sand covered by hundreds of mostly naked , male bodies varying in shades from lobster pink to mahogany. Not much beauty as far as I could see, holding my hand over my eyes to survey the scene.  Lots of ageing ‘clones’ and a large number of very obese, ginger Germans.  I didn’t particularly care – I was just happy to be there. There were also some very funny sights:  like a Quentin Crisp look-a-like ‘dressed’ in a huge gold chain dangling above a tiny, gold lame posing pouch, who was constantly brushing his bleached-blond coiffure, in vain, because of the wind.  Another weird specimen was sporting an artfully arranged, Tarzan-esque chamois-leather loin cloth, with matching ethnic booties, all carefully torn and tied with leather laces, to the mid-calf.  This wild ensemble was topped with a leopard-print headscarf tied around his hair, which was dyed and bleached to look ‘savage’.  What really made me gag was the massive Louis Vuitton shoulder bag (on a beach?) which he was flouting like a trophy.  It was probably fake.

Black, white or fluorescent cycle shorts seemed to be the most popular fashion item, along with skinny, torn T-shirts with ‘Boy London’ written on them.  But most people were nude, certainly not ‘boys’ and probably not from London. Having staked my claim to a spot on the beach (I didn’t feel the need to pay for a sun-lounger) I laid out my towel, stripped-off, and ambled into the foaming breakers through a good deal of grungy seaweed which was beneath the surface.  God only knows what was lurking amongst it (jellyfish, turds, condoms, conga eels, sharks etc) but I made it to the relative safety of the mild, mediterranean surf and spent several minutes playing ‘jump-up when the wave comes’ and swam a few miles, okay, yards, before heading back to the sand for some serious nude sunbathing.

I didn’t talk to, or meet a soul.  I guess none of them appealed to me. Around 6.30 in the evening I decided that it was time to put on my shorts and T-shirt, grab my bag and check out the dunes and the pine forest for any signs of homo sapiens erecto, but there was no-one who appealed to me – it was also much less busy than ‘B.A’ (Before AIDS).  Ho hum. Regardless, I still felt wonderful, glowing in the dappled sunlight with my light, golden tan.  After a while I wandered back through the pine-scented forest to Las Salinas and caught the bus back to my cool and spacious studio apartment in Ibiza Town, showered and changed and headed for dinner at Olmos.  This is a charming little boho, gay restaurant selling authentic, Spanish food  – with a menu in French, for some reason –  beautifully cooked and presented (the moules farcies was one of my faves), which I washed down with a very decent bottle of Rioja.  I sat outside on the terrace in the little piazza, enjoying the music emanating from the funky little bar opposite. African music crosses over at last!  Then I sauntered off through the narrow, winding, cobbled streets to check-out all the gay bars.  Several new one have sprung-up since I was here last – mostly beneath the castle walls.  The actual bars are generally tiny – more like booze kiosks really, generally no bigger than my bijou living room back in Crapton Street in South London.  Everyone sits outside on colourful cushions themed to match the bar’s decor on benches fashioned from concrete and painted white.  All very funky, but mostly populated by ‘clones’ (gay men with moustaches or beards, trying to look manly, wearing Levis 501s, work boots, and white T-shirts or vests  – tank tops to you Yanks – and/or plaid shirts). I made a mental note to shave-off my moustache (which I did today – it makes me like five years younger – about thirty then!  – but  I feel strangely naked without it).

I met a guy called Guy (pronounced ghee) who, it transpired, owns the bar called GG’s. By now, I was more than slightly schlozzled and probably bored the pants off him by going into a diatribe about ‘clones’ and anything else that came into my head.  You get an awful lot of Vodka for just a few pesetas in Spain!  Then I met a guy from London called Roger – he’s been living here for over four years now – whom I thought that I’d fucked once, but it turned-out that I hadn’t. He reminded me that not only had I screwed his beautiful Fijian friend, but also his even more gorgeous brother  (the Fijian’s, not Roger’s) in my bed, when I rented a whole Georgian house near Regent’s Park in 1980 for £25 a week.  Yessiree!  There was a catch though – it was semi derelict with no kitchen or bathroom. It all came back to me. Mmm! What fun! Then, what I thought was a complete (and decidedly unattractive) stranger stopped me in the calle, by grabbing my arm and stating:  ‘You’re from London, you’re a singer-songwriter (huh? must have been a long time ago, I mused ruefully), and we had lunch with Mary Whitehouse and the theatre critic from The Guardian, it must have been about twelve years ago.’  He enthused.  I remembered the lunch very well.  Who wouldn’t remember having lunch with England’s self-appointed ‘moral guardian’.  She revealed, as I recall, a massive ego and a seriously batty demeanour.  The journalist had a bit of a crush on me, I think, and thought it would amuse me to have lunch with Mary Whitehouse. Indeed it did.  But I didn’t remember this guy at all.  He stared at me like an eager old dog and continued breathlessly: ‘It was in Parson’s restaurant on Fulham Rd – I’ve got a very good memory for faces…’ ‘

Well, nice to see you again.’ I said pleasantly, turning to walk away.

‘Oh… goodbye then.’

I found myself in the Incognito bar, which was packed, and was forced to listen to the moronic, baying banter of a bevy of British ‘nelly clones’ who were from oop north – Manchester, perhaps. ‘Ooooh loov, what’s she liiiike!’ Screamed one, arms flapping histrionically. ‘Tell me abaht it gurlfriend, Ah mane, she’s not exactly Steve McQueen, is she loov!’ Squealed another. And so it went on ad infinitum. I naturally kept schtum, wishing to keep my nationality a closely-guarded secret.  Luckily, they didn’t try to embroil me in one of their pathetic little scenarios.  If they had, I would have merely stated: ‘No hablo Ingles.’ With a suitably apologetic expression.

Weds. 24. 8. 88.  9.30pm.  On the balcony at 11, Carrer De Mar (my temporary home).

I had a wonderful time last night. I really felt like I was on holiday, which was kicked-off  by a brilliant dinner at La Torre, a funky French bistro overlooking the harbour.  A guy I’d seen at the beach and had named Mr Hunk (with the beautiful eyes) and his two bitter-looking companions sat at an adjacent table and ignored my presence completely.  Well, they are French.  Mr Hunk’s body language suggested that he’s a hung-up, wannabe (gay) macho bore.  Maybe I’ll find out. Very good-looking, but… I somehow doubt that anything will happen there.  Then I wandered happily up the narrow streets which were teeming with people, heading for Incognito.  All the shops and restaurants were still open at midnight, with everyone sitting outside.  It was a wonderfully vibrant-yet-mellow atmosphere; sights, sounds and aromas all wrapped-up in the mediterranean heat of the night and that unique, up-beat Ibizan magic.  I noticed fishing boats headed out to sea all lit-up, like a string of fairy lights in the inky black void.

I hit the bar at Incognito (not literally, you understand, I was far from angry) to discover, as I ordered una cerveza, that Lyndsay, the English barman (who by now, it would appear, had something of a thing for me),  ‘was feeling depressed and would reveal all later’.  I said that might be difficult as I had a free ticket to the legendary KU club.  Get-out clause!  I’m on holiday, man!  The last thing I need is to be someone’s depression sponge.  Fuck right off!  I don’t even find you attractive – you’ve just latched, or leched, on to me.

I get a taxi To KU. Wow!  What an amazing space.  It’s a vast outdoor pleasure dome set around a massive swimming pool with terraces, palm trees, exotic plants, fountains and a huge dance floor  on several levels with a stonking sound system playing really interesting music: essentially, black/street-meets-electro/indy.  Esoteric, eclectic and decidedly electric. But the people?  OH MY GOD, the people!  A gruesome Eurotrash nightmare! Tourists, I imagine.  Very, very straight.  One token drag queen (presumably to add a bit of ‘outrageous’ to the equation).  Swarthy men sporting medallions and mullets!  Even grandmothers in POLYESTER! The crowd made the clientele of London’s dreadful Hippodrome club look hip, but on this wonderfully sultry night, in this incredible outdoor fantasy-space, it seemed a shame.  Evidently, I came on the wrong night of the week!  Some dog-woman singer called Joanna Charlie (arf arf) was supposed to be doing a PA, which I thankfully missed, but as was leaving, I over-heard  her issuing ‘lighting directions’ to a stage technician, regarding her ‘best angles’.  She was  wearing the most vile lime-green lurex ruched mini dress – it had  enough flounces to make a drag queen dance a waltz of joy – then steal it from her dressing room.

I walked down the road heading for another  legendary all-outdoor club called Amnesia,  using the club’s lasers criss-crossing the starry sky as my guide.  I’d met a Brazilian beauty on the gay beach earlier who’d said he’d let me in for free.  Said? Yes, that reminds me:  SAID (with two dots over the i – or is it the A?) is here in Ibiza too.   This is the Arab guy who tried to score  with the man I loved, Tony McCord.  Said,  the beautiful young man who slept with me so many times but refused to let me touch him.  Said, the guy who managed to drunkenly lurch onto the stage at the Hippodrome and actually TURN OFF the Revox tape recorder that was playing the backing track for The Gruesome Girls debut performance in front of two thousand music industry professionals last year.  Yes – THAT Said.  Nuff SAID – what a twat.

I’ll write more about The Gruesome Girls at some other point… that’s probably another chapter in itself.

I bumped into SAID on the way to the beach yesterday, where he declared that he was now ‘an international, penniless waiter’.  I s’pose he made quite a good accessory, as he is rather beautiful.  But what an idiot.

Renaldo, the doorman at Amnesia, was obviously as impressed with my club-promoting credentials (as indeed he should be) as I’m impressed with his pectorals. We chatted a little at the gate and he kindly shared a spliff with me and gave me an ecstasy tab.  He seemed a little odd – kind-of nervous and/or neurotic.  Drugged-fucked perhaps?  Too much free coke and E?  Oh well.  I floated in, bought a beer and necked the E.  Amnesia is another incredible club space.  All outdoors again, great sound-system, but here the crowd was much younger and cooler, much to my relief.  There was, however, no so-called ‘acid house’, no flowery Bermuda shorts, no smiley T-shirts or gypsy head scarves.  Strange.  I thought the whole acid-house thing started in this very club. Hmmm, I think London took some roots and cultivated them organically.  Perhaps Ibiza had got bored and already moved on? The  Amnesia DJs were playing what was basically really good American, black, streety music.  Short interludes, mixed very fast.  It was great to hear a re-mix one of my all-time faves ‘Going Back To My Roots‘ by Richie Havens, which, oddly enough, I recall hearing on my first visit to Ibiza about nine years ago.  The original mix, that is.

The club was very busy, but comfortably so.  Plenty of space to move around the huge dance floor under the stars, with its giant metal obelisks, fountains, pools and parasols.  The floor was jumping, so I jumped-in with both feet flying.  Yes ME!  I can really dance well when the spirit moves me.  I was off on one like a whirling dervish.  I went into a dance trance, my feet were hardly touching the ground –  wheeeeee! –  and then, after a few numbers, I suddenly noticed that I was surrounded by a big circle of smiling people all clapping.  What – me?  I can only describe it as ‘the Ibiza effect’.  It was both liberating and uplifting.

I got another cerveza and noticed a beautiful young black man I’d spotted earlier sitting alone on some stairs, but looking slightly the worse for wear.  I pulled  a questioning ‘are you OK’ kind of face from the bar.  He motioned back with ‘too much smoking dope’ in sign language, with a wry grimace.  God – do I remember THAT from when I was a teen (he looked about 17)? I recall turning green and lying in a foetal position on a bathroom floor having smoked too much Nepalese temple ball, Lebanese red or Afghani gold, probably washed down with cider, on many occasions in those  heady days in the late 60s.  I went over to him, put my arm around him and said: ‘I’ll make you better.’

To my surprise, he gave me a trusting, almost relieved look. I tested the aura around his head with my hands about four inches from  each side of his head. It seemed fine.  Nothing cold, dark and swirly. I said gently ‘Look, it’s all in your mind and I’ll get rid of it, OK?’ He smiled sweetly and looked me in the eye. They  were big and beautiful.  I put my right hand about two inches behind the back of his head and pumped in positive energy, using horizontal  bands of pulsing white light which I then sent around to my left hand, which was positioned about the same distance from his forehead, and released the energy through my own head into the universe, like a super-charged, white tornado.  ‘Tell me if you feel dizzy…’  I said.

‘I feel…fine.’ He mumbled, his head rolling just slightly from side-to-side. Obviously, it was working. I turned and held my hands horizontally on each side of his head, swirling the white light around anti-clockwise and releasing the white tornado out of the top of my head and into the heavens again.

‘What’s your name and where are you from?’ I asked softly, still giving him aura healing.

‘Topher. from Germany.’  He said dreamily.

‘Oh yes, I can tell, with your blond hair, blue eyes etc…’ I joked.  He laughed sweetly.  ‘And how old are you?’.

‘Twenty.’  He replied.

‘Liar!’  I thought to myself, ‘You’re younger than that.’

Seventeen, I reckoned.  ‘Right, you should be fine.  Now, just blink, as if you just woke up,  sit still for two minutes, relax and breath slowly and deeply.  I’ll see you later.’ I said squeezing his shoulder.  He blinked his long black lashes and looked at me warmly and said:  ‘Thank you so much, I feel refreshed and so much better!’

I didn’t want him to think I was ‘coming on to him’ – and nor was I.  I wandered off, wondering whether Topher was gay.  Yes.  Of course he was,  Beautiful, fresh, inexperienced perhaps. Maybe I would have my wicked way later – but only if it was mutual, organic and acceptable to him.

Then I spotted the most beautiful man I’d yet seen on the island  – an Egyptian/Italian whom I’d inveigled into conversation at Incognito the other night. He’d been pleasant, but slightly offhand, possibly because what appeared to be his boyfriend had been sitting next to him.  He’d seemed older, not particularly attractive (to me, at least).  They’d left.  Now here they were in Amnesia. I observed them from a short distance and realised that they’d noticed me and were talking about me – you know how people can’t avoid looking at someone that they’re discussing, even though they think they’re being subtle or discreet?  The Egyptian smiled and beckoned for me to come over.  ‘Hi’, I said, sitting next to him on a low wall with cushions on it, by the fountain, ‘so I guess you two are lovers?’ They exchanged secretive smiles and both nodded happily.  I was buzzing, enjoying myself, a little bit drunk as well as high from the E, and from healing Topher – who was now happily dancing in a world of his own.  The Egyptian/Italian had huge blue eyes and jet black hair – very unusual – and his eyes were warm and intelligent as he smiled at me.  His Italian lover now visibly relaxed – I think they’d decided that they liked me.  I was giving out positive energy and they seemed to be picking-up on it. Soon, we were acting like new best friends. Topher came over and said brightly: ‘It worked!’ I grabbed his hand and said ‘Lets dance – it’s the spirit of Ibiza!’

The Italians, who it transpired earlier are from Milan, got up to dance too.  The older one was a pharmacist called Guillermo and the younger one a fashion student (no surprise there, then) called Islam.  They smiled indulgently as Topher and I went wild on the floor.  Then suddenly it was 6am.  Closing time.

‘Do you sleep with men?’  I asked him directly, but slightly gingerly.

‘Yes, sometimes,’ he replied, his dark eyes burning into me, ‘but I can’t decide what to do – my friends want to go to Space, the all-night club, and I would really like to come with you.’

Wow!  ‘I’d really like you to come with me too!’  I said, giving him a man-hug.  He went off to find his friends. That was the last I saw of him.

26. 8. 1988.  Cafe Montesol.  10.30pm.

I’m waiting to meet Guillermo and Islam for dinner.  They’re late.  After losing Topher, I’d at least found them, so we could share a cab back to town.   The sun had risen over the mountains – which really do look white – hence La Isla Blanca.  Maybe it’s something to do with salt. Islam keeps touching me and squeezing my arm in the cab, dammit. They are lovers Thom!  He looks at me intently with his huge, turquoise-blue eyes and says:  bellisimo – you are beautiful.’  I nearly die on the spot.  Guillermo nods and smiles in agreement. Who the hell wouldn’t like the odd wonderful compliment?  ‘Come back to my apartment – I haven’t had any visitors yet.  I have drinks!’

They came back and we had coffee and brandy and talked happily for an hour or two.  Islam has been to London (damn, how did I miss him?) and liked the clubs The Oven and Nirvana.   What! Not MINE? It was only a weekend visit, he explained. I have to FORGET any thoughts I might nurture of sleeping with him as the two of them are obviously very content and trusting with each other.   No way was I trying to suggest a threesome, as I didn’t fancy Guilermo at all, and, frankly, I’m really not into threesomes – especially with couples.   You just end-up being their metaphorical tennis net (trust me – I’ve been there). But it was really good to have someone to communicate with, on a level.  On holiday, and even in my normal life, I spend too much time alone.  I think it’s because I’m very choosey about who I spend my time with.  I always demand that they be witty, intelligent, intellectual, have an understanding of irony,  love being silly (in a clever way, natch), surprise me with inspirational things, bring me warmth, be a joy to spend time with (and, should we have some mutual, sexual attraction, for massive bonus points, be really fit, masculine and sexy with luscious lips and a fabulous butt)… otherwise, I’m the hermit. That’s really what being an artist is all about: the arcane ability to be an anchorite – ie the lonely priest of your own visions, with a congregation of spiritual ghosts.

27. 8. 1988.  11.30 am. On my balcony.

We had a pleasant dinner in a little Italian restaurant in an alley off the main square.  Really good food.  Initially, I felt quite nervous, for some reason, as I often do. Perhaps I tend to over-analyse myself and consquently over-compensate by talking too much. In this case, I did presume that I might be an intruder in their private world, something of a voyeur. But hey, in a sense they’d saved me from going quietly nuts, without anyone to actually communicate with.  I told them all about my club-running and songwriting life in London They might have found me quite glamourous, on reflection.  I never really think about it, but objectively, I guess I live the high life to an extent: eating out at really good restaurants every night, taking taxis everywhere. I mean, I really AM friends with Jimi Sommerville, Paul Rutherford (of Frankie Goes To Hollywood), the successful couturiers Anthony Price and Bruce Oldfield and Jon Moss of Culture Club, to mention a few.  I know Boy George but don’t really get on with him that well.  I actually KNOW George Michael (we have so many long, in-depth conversations), Sade (she even tried to pick me up a couple of times!  Great for the ego!), Leee John of Imagination, Andy Bell of Erasure, Mica Paris and John Reid, Elton John’s manager. I’ve even MET Prince – when I organised his Love Sexy after-show parties just a few weeks ago (that’s why I’m here – it’s my reward from myself for being so clever and making loads of money and excellent kudos)! I regaled them with stories relating to various celebrities – and they were quite wide-eyed about my exploits and seemed to  hang-on every word.   We  also laughed a lot, which is always a good thing.

Then they told me about their lives and the fact that neither of their families were aware of their gayness.  After dinner and a few bottles of Rioja we wended our way up through the crowded, cobbled streets to Incognito, where we could only find seats in front of a blaring speaker.  But the music was really good – especially for a gay bar.  Instead of the usual dreary ‘gay disco’ it was salsa, soul and African music.  We ‘people-watched’ for a couple of hours, knocking back the beers, giving people secret silly names and trying, in vain, to find someone for ME! We left and wandered down to Maralla, one of a cluster of gay bars beneath the towering castle walls, where we referred to the queens waving fans in their hand as  ‘Contessas’ and mercilessly wound-up a poor, ravaged, ageing clone waiter who served us drinks, mercifully, without him realising.  As they hadn’t been (weren’t missing much), I pointed out where the quite horrid gay club Anforra was as they went back to their hotel.  I went in.  The only interesting about the club is that it’s actually in a cave. The place was packed.   There was porn projected onto a  large screen in one of the bars upstairs, caged birds in another. There’s a metaphor there somewhere.

Downstairs in the main dithco, wall-to-wall clones were punching the air robotically on the dance floor, which is surrounded by somewhat treacherous, slippery (in the heat) asymmetric ceramic terraces and steps, which people perch on precariously. The thoroughly unpleasant shrivelled little German clone DJ played exactly the same horrid records at exactly the same times as he  had yesterday and would  do tomorrow. Next to the porn bar is a dark back room  which was, strangely, quite empty.  Too early for the last chance saloon, I guess  I wandered around, feeling utterly brought-down by the depressingly old-school gay disco vibe.  I didn’t see anyone to ‘get my teeth into’ and settled on the ‘bird bar’ as being the most comfortable place to get drunk and morose.  All I needed was someone to take it out on and lo… he appeared like a geni out of a bottle of poppers:  a remarkably unattractive American clone with awful, acne-scarred skin.

‘Hi,’ he said brightly, offering his hand for me to shake, ‘my name’s Herman!’ Herman! Ye gods! I thought.

‘I saw you at Maralla earlier – I overheard you telling your friends a joke about Ronald Reagan.’ He said, half-smiling, limply, as I shook his hand back, unenthusiastically.

‘Which American politician would you talk about?’ I asked.

‘Dukakis.’

‘Well, there’s not much to say about him is there?’

We talked some more about cultural differences (why do so many Americans (from the dull side) always complain about the todal lack of air-conditioning and twelve-lane highways in Europe?).  Then I suddenly felt slightly sorry for him. I was being aggressive and opinionated and he was really dreary – a punch-ball for me.  At least I had someone to talk to, or at. I couldn’t stop myself and ‘went into one’ about how tired and old-fashioned the whole ‘gay scene’ was and how it didn’t cater for the ‘new breed’ (unlike my club nights in London). Somewhat to my surprise, he was nodding his head in agreement.  Maybe he was just being polite.

Where in The States are you from?’ I asked.

‘San Francisco.’ He smiled.

‘Ah – Armistead Maupin!’ I said.

‘What? Is he a writer? I  don’t know his work!’ He stated blandly.

‘He’s San Fransico’s best-known gay writer, is very successful and his work is most excellent.   He told me recently when both appeared at an AIDS benefit that he’s  in negotiations regarding a TV series based on his Tales Of The Cities books, which, personally, I’d love to see if they do it well.  He even hinted (‘Don’t tell a soul’) that the wonderful actress Olympia Dukakis (that surname again) might play Mrs Madrigal.  So is the gay scene in San Fran moving with the times, growing up and becoming more integrated, or is it still stuck in its glorious, clone-zone past?’ I asked.

‘Stuck in what? I don’t understand .’ He replied in his dumb way. ‘But hey, you know, it’s so great to meet someone in their thirties who’s cute (cute?) and intelligent. I like your politics (my politics?) and I think you’re truly wonderful.’ He gushed, in his strangely sad and dull, collegiate manner.

‘Well, thanks for the compliments,’ I said, sort-of meaning it, somewhat taken aback, ‘but don’t fall into that typical gay trap of thinking that just because we’ve talked means that we’re going to automatically have sex.  If more gay people communicated as human beings, I feel we’d all be a lot happier. And I’m not a hypocrite or holier-than-thou. I don’t ‘pick-up’ people, I just interact organically. I do talk to people because, on occasion,  I’m attracted to them, but only when they send me a psychic and/or visual ‘go ahead’ sign.  Now I have to go because I’ve seen a hunk whom I wish to pursue and I’m not into blondes anyway.’

I was lying about ‘the hunk’.

Thom, you bastard, I thought, as I walked away, left the club and headed up up to the castle ramparts for a ‘cruise’.  Up there is a series of ruined  buildings with only some crumbling, ancient walls remaining – like a series of archeological digs, a few feet deep, now all grassed over.  This is the main stomping ground for brief encounters – or more.  The mystic maze (as I call it) seemed to be deserted.  I went and leaned on the ramports to marvel at the evocative view of Ibiza town spread out below, the  glistening lights of the harbour and of various craft dotting the sea beyond.  Suddenly, I felt a presence.  I turned to my left to see a beautiful vision.  A vision of beauty.   But, magically,  it seemed that he was for real.  He smiled and said ‘Hola’.  I felt like saying ‘Hola guapo‘ (hello handsome) in reply, but felt that might come across as somewhat tawdry – or he might murder me. So I just responded with a ‘play safe’ ‘Hola‘ and went and sat on the wall next to him and offered him a cigarette. He took it, smiled back, then touching my arm and looking into my eyes, starting talking to me in Spanish. I had to say sadly ‘No comprende’.  Then we started talking with gestures, expressions and our  eyes.  It was beautiful and very romantic.  He’s  about the same height as me – 6ft –  looked to be in his mid-twenties and was very dark, handsome and swarthy, with sexy stubble, maybe he was of Moorish descent (he no doubt would be more-ish too, one hoped) and looked  fit and masculine. Sorry about the cliche – but …was I dreaming?  He was dressed in a sporty/funky/relaxed/casual fashion – mostly shades of khaki – and had  huge dark-brown eyes and full, very kissable pink lips.  He sported what looked like a soldier’s short haircut and his tight combat pants emphasised the pert, muscular roundness of his butt.  Soon there was plenty of touching going on, along with our innovative communication skills, and it wasn’t long before I indicated to him that we should go up to the tower above the ramparts.  There was nobody else around, and as I suddenly felt like I was in a Jean Genet film (minus the self-loathing and masochism), perhaps more Jean Cocteau, I took him by the hand and led him through the rather forbidding medieval tunnel that led up to the top.

It takes a lot to beat the gorgeous visuals and the hot, breezy sensuality of Ibiza Town at night.

We sat down on the grass and looked out to sea, with its magical flickering lights, and carried on our visual ‘conversation’, interspersed with little spurts of Spanish, English and French.  Then, with glorious synchronicity, the full moon took its opportunity to come out of hiding beyond some wispy clouds on the horizon and started to shine a silvery path across the water towards us. We held each other close and smiled into each other’s eyes.  It seemed that he was indeed a soldier, and either bisexual or gay and – oh my god! – was this his first time with a man?  Dayum!  Then – joy of joys – he pulled a joint of his pocket and we shared it, between increasingly horny kisses. Then we were exploring, touching.  He put his hand down my pants and started stroking my cock and balls.  I put one hand inside his T-shirt and start gently playing with his left nipple, then pulled up his T-shirt and start flickering my tongue on it.  Another hit of spliff.  He had my dick out and was doing a gentle jerk-off, which I love (as opposed to overly ‘fake’ macho, like people enacting scenes from a porn film).  I grabbed his hand, pulled him up and we went up to the wall of the tower. I undid his trousers and pulled-out his impressive rock-hard  Moorish cock and gave him some subtle, sensual head.  Then I pulled them down as the warm wind blew around us and turned him around and found it hard to suppress a gasp as I saw the full magnificence of his butt.  This needed the urgent attention of my ever-attentive tongue!  He moaned softly and deeply as I flicked it expertly into his soft, hairy arshole, lubing it with my saliva.  Then,  slowly… very slowly and gently… I slid my dick up his perfect posterior.  Then we embarked on a heavenly journey of fucking for what seemed like a lifetime before we both climaxed… in total synch.  It was beautiful beyond compare.  We  gathered our breath, hugged and pulled up our trousers, sat down and held hands and had a cigarette.  Then, after a wistful silence he looked me in the eye meaningfully.  I knew intuitively that he had to go and that, sadly, I would probably never, ever see him again.  I squeezed his hand and said. ‘Muchas, muchas gracias, adios guapo, mi amigo…’  I reluctantly stayed put, sat on the grass, biting my lip at the inevitability of the ending of our all-too-brief and suddenly lost romance .  He turned back and waved and smiled, illuminated by the moonlight, as he descended the  steep grassy hill above the cliffs, before disappearing into the tunnel. I lit a cigarette and stared out to sea, still mesmerised by our magical encounter.  I never did get his name.

Not only had I found someone to have wild, romantic sex  and wonderful interaction with (a memory that will stay with me forever), but nor was I flung off the castle ramparts by homophobic gypsies, as is apparently sometimes the case – or is this just an island (as opposed to urban) myth?

The next day, I met the Italians at 4pm and we went to the more ‘straight’ Las Salinas Beach, as opposed to Es Cavallet,  the nude gay beach .  It was much nicer.  The wooden shack that housed the cafe/bar is much more funky/boho and the beach faces in the right direction for the afternoon sun (it’s a bore lying in the sun with your head lying downhill). There was a mixed crowd, with brilliant music coming from the bar’s huge speakers – mostly African and Brazilian. I spent a leisurely three hours reading the Italians’ cards for them.  I use Psi Cards, which, in my opinion, are less likely to summon the dark arts.

My God, their relationship is made in heaven!  Lucky guys – they will be together, very happy and relaxed, for a long time.  I felt pleased for them, and my pointless, mild obsession with Islam was helpfully dimmed by the the fact that he is actually slightly overweight and, judging by the cards, is the top in their relationship!  I rest my case.  Lovely guy though – and mmmm, those kissable lips.  Friends.  We stayed until sunset, which was a spectacular array of purple, gold and red.  Beautiful and magical. It made me think; how wonderful it must be for them, being together, on holiday and seeing their life stretching before them like so many fabulous sunsets.  We were two loving soul-mates and one slightly green-eyed (actually, they’re brown), sentimental, old (ish) fool.

6pm.  Saturday. 29.8.1988.  Cafe Montesol.  Ibiza Town.  My last day!

Thursday night was –  cue jokey sarcasm –  just another routine Ibizan rigmarole. After a  delicious French meal on the terrace below Incognito  I got – surprise! – rather drunk. Didn’t talk to anyone ‘cos they were all disgusting.  Went to Anfora – the club in a cave.  Hated it, as usual.  Just before I was planning to go there was a power cut.  Someone groped me in the dark, then, when the lights quickly came back on (as the back-up generator kicked-in, no doubt), I noted that he was incredibly white (ugh) and then he started blathering nonsense at me in a heavy Northern-Irish accent – like a nightmarish, gay version of The Reverend Ian Paisley.  So I staggered off in search of hot chocolate at 7am and had a chat with the drug-crazed English waiter at Incognito, then went home – only to find an interested person eyeing me up at the end of the street.  He clocked me going in to my building and I correctly assumed that when I had taken of my shirt, exposing my toned and tanned body, and sauntered on to the balcony, he would be waiting below – on the other side of the street, smoking a cigarette.  Film Noir  in the bright, morning light.   I beckoned to him to ‘come up’, like a new twist on a  Shakespearian balcony scenes(Romeo and Romeo?).  He was a shortish, mildly good-looking Italian. Didn’t speak English.  Took off all his clothes.  Sniffed poppers. It seemed he’d never had sex with a man before. Let’s get this over with quickly, I thought, as he declined to suck my dick. I jerked-off all over him and sent him on his way.  I slept very well.

On Friday, I got up too late to go to the beach, which was probably just as well, as I’d discovered there is actually no night ferry back to Barcelona on a Sunday (my logic had been that with my flight back to London being at 10.15 on Monday morning, it would have been perfect). So; to ‘plan B’.  I decided to try and get an afternoon flight back from Ibiza. No go. All the flights were full.  ‘Plan C’.   Get a ticket for the day boat leaving at at 11am, which would mean staying up all night, as my body clock is set to ‘night’. No go.  The seats were all fully booked.  Arggghh! ‘Plan D’.  I had no option but to book a private, single cabin! Well, I figured, at last I’d be able to crash out  after my final sunbathe on the top deck and a dip in the bath-sized pool.  At 11.500 Pesetas (about £55) it was definitely not cheap, but the romantic aspect appeals, as well the luxurious indulgence of it. So off I go: two nights on the trot with hardly any sleep.  I’ll be a suntanned-but-happy wreck when I get back to London.

I said goodbye to Topher, the 17 year-0ld, black German, at 4.30 this afternoon.  He’d re-appeared at Amnesia last night, well, morning, and I took him back to my place at 6am. He was sweet, sexy, warm, loving, innocent (in a strong way) and trusting.  We had a beautiful night together.”

The sound of a double-decker coming down the hill is perfectly timed as, back in 1988, I leave La Isla Blanca in my my own private cabin on the day ferry to Barcelona.  That was quite some holiday – in marked contrast to my rather sedate, reflective, relaxing and, frankly, uneventful sojourn here in Cornwall. I put the red notebook back in my rucksack and jump on the bus – which wends it way around the tidal creeks of the estuary on its way to Queensbury and Cavelly on its way to Plymouth. I’m the only passenger and I sit upstairs in the front seat, admiring the ever-changing vistas in the early evening sunlight.

Having just read in my diary how I regaled ‘The Italians’ with my celebrity tales, my mind wanders back to the amazing parties which I organised for Prince  from July 31 in 1988.  They were the after-show parties after  the last three days of the seven sold-out ‘Love Sexy’ dates at Wembley Arena. The Sure Organisation, the promotion and events company which I co-directed with Adrian Oasthouse (he mostly handled the business and I ran the creative side of things) had initially been contracted by Prince’s record label to organise just the ‘look’ of the parties, which they were planning to hold in a really rubbishy, tacky venue in London’s West End (these days it’s a lap-dancing club).  I went to meet  a woman called Sharon (she simply had to be called that eh?) from the record company at the venue. As I walked in she was on the phone in the reception area (this was before mobile phones had really taken off – although Adrian and I did have them; they were really big and could only just about fit in your pocket).

Sharon was evidently speaking to the manager of the venue on the phone.

‘What do you mean, we have to stop everything at 1am?’ She was harumphing. ‘But Prince won’t even GET to the venue until midnight – and he’s going to be jamming with some seriously A-list stars!’  She slammed down the phone and turned to me and said in a squeaky Essexy (as opposed to sexy) voice: ‘The manager says that this venue is only licenced until 1am because there’s a residential block above.’

 Then why didn’t you check that out when booked this dreadful, cockney-themed glorified pub you silly cow?  I felt like saying, but didn’t, instead suggesting that perhaps I could help them to find an alternative – in a hurry.  She glared at me down her nose and flounced off – a tarty bottle-blond rock chick-with attitude.  Typical record company biatch.

I raced back to our office near Charing Cross with the germs of a game-plan in my head. I could get on to the MD (that’s what they were called in those days, as opposed to CEOs) of the label – I knew him quite well as I’d been signed to them, albeit briefly (via New York), in 1979 – and suggest a bit of PR masterstroke:  why not let The Sure Organisation take over the running of the events (as I’d come-up with a brilliant idea, which was essentially to hold the parties in a different, cool ‘secret’ venue every night) and build this huge anticipation as to where the parties were to be held.  The people invited – all VIPs – would be ‘biked’ tickets at the last moment and all the radio and TV stations would be speculating as to where it might be that night and it would be all over the newspapers and magazines.  Brilliant!

I rushed into the office and spurted out my plan to Adrian.  A huge smile spread across his face. ‘That’s a fantastic idea – call the MD right now!’

So I did. And we got the gig – and £600 per day.  A lot of money in those days.

I lined-up all the venues,  getting them for nothing (the prestige of hosting a Prince party was self-evidently brilliant PR) and drove around with Prince’s manager to check them all out in his hired black, stretch, Roll-Royce limo.  Nice.  He was fascinated by my mobile phone!  Prince’s manager?  In a stretch Roller? Fascinated by my mobile?  I was really enjoying myself.  He loved my choice of venues and the fact that they were also free meant that he appreciated that the budget was much bigger for the ‘dressing’ of the parties:  Sumptuous swathes of purple and white silk, masses of purple and white balloons and huge displays of purple and white flowers.  Not to mention that there would no doubt be champagne on tap!

The first party was at Trilby’s, where Adrian and I held Wilderness, our hugely successful night, every Monday (yes, on  MONDAYS – with over a thousand people!).  I was in charge of every aspect at the venue and Prince’s secondary road crew – there were twelve of them setting-up identical stage gear to what Prince had at Wembley – all called me ‘boss’, much to my delight.  The fact that I was also a musician helped. I sound-checked Prince’s keyboard and fantasised about playing with his band . There was also no way that I could smuggle-in any of my friends, other than using them as part of my ‘dressing’ team.  So there were quite a few well-known London faces blowing up purple balloons with helium and arranging flowers – and they even got paid for it!  Everyone wanted to be at Prince’s parties.

Everything went swimmingly – the radio stations were bubbling with the speculation as to where it would be held. It was all over the newspapers.  The record label  biked out the tickets – only four hundred – at the last minute and when the doors opened – on time –  at 11pm, I was astonished to see who showed-up.  Every major rock and pop star in the country seemed to be there.  Eric Clapton wandered with his guitar.  Prince swept in like a little dynamo soon after midnight, dressed in orange silk pyjamas (he was in deep conversation with Nile Rogers of Chic – one of my musical heroes) with his backing band, plus a sizeable entourage.  After a little while, his manager introduced him to me as the organiser, in the quiet bar, and he looked up (well, you know) into my eyes, smiled and quietly uttered the immortal words

‘Thanks for the atmosphere.

He was spot-on – creating a great atmosphere has always been my strong point.  It’s attention to detail mixed with an almost spiritual approach. Now I had a perma-grin on my face!

It wasn’t long before Prince, his band, Clapton and Nile Rogers were onstage jamming, making the most sweet music you could imagine.  Then, after a few minutes,  Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones showed-up and jumped up on stage to play with them. I was deliriously happy and buzzing, perched on top of the PA, listening intently to the wonderful noise made by some of the most incredible musicians in the world.  Absolutely priceless. And… I was in charge!

The next day the party was to be upstairs at Nirvana. Prince had indicated that he wouldn’t be jamming that night but, through his manager, agreed to my most cunning stunt.  Nirvana has three main rooms.  It was a Thursday night and the regular night there was to be held only downstairs, on the main dance floor – and the promoters were sworn to secrecy about the secret party upstairs.  Everything went according to my plan – with the help of walky-talkies.  The main room had, at the time, a long balcony about 100 feet long, running all the way down one side of the dancefloor.  At around midnight, we had this cleared and placed security men on each of the two stairs.  We’d hired a ‘follow spot’ who’s operator was now pointing a narrow beam at the back door of the club from the DJ box at the other end. The music faded – and the crowd were utterly amazed to see Prince appear in the light, smiling indulgently, holding a gold-topped cane, but not waving, and then slowly, ever so slowly, walking the length of the balcony, all eyes (with suitably dropped jaws) on him, smiling indugently at the astonished crowd in the spotlight, then eventually disappearing into his own party, which was being held in the two upstairs rooms. The smaller room he entered was a ‘VIP VIP’ room as all the guests were celebrities, but some more so than others!  I walked into the room from the DJ box and there was Sharon from the record company trying to engage a slightly bored-looking, world-famous UK pop star (this was before he’d ‘come out’)  in conversation.  She scowled at me – no doubt jealous that I’d stolen her crown.  Her face, however,  was a treat to behold when he said, putting his arm around my shoulder:  ‘Hi Thom – great to see you – let’s mingle baby!’

All eyes were on us  – he kept his arm around my shoulder – as we headed into the main room upstairs and the celebrity crowd parted like the dead sea as we walked, well, to the toilets!  Magic.

Friday night’s party was held at one of London’s most exciting and unusual venues (as chosen by me, of course) in Kensington – The Sky High Club.  This lovely art deco building is set in two acres of gardens on the roof of  a department store and was, and still is, owned by a major British magnate who not only had a hugely successful record label, but was also in the process of setting up an airline.  He also owned Nirvana, the club,  at the time.   When I’d rung the manager to arrange the details, she’d initially insisted that Prince’s record company had to pay some ridiculous  sum (£20,000 or something) to hire the place. Adrian knew the magnate personally and  I asked him to phone him to ask him to tell her to drop the hire fee – which he did – and she did.  It was all rather delicious and put me in a very good light.  Prince wanted to jam again, as it was his last night, and again Eric Clapton and Nile Rogers joined him and his band on stage, though not Ronny Wood.  And Prince is an amazing dancer too.  After they finished jamming, I was in the DJ box with Mitzi, who was DJing, of course. I’d turned around to make a somewhat incongruous roll-up and turned back to see the whole club transfixed – looking seemingly at, well… us!  I looked behind the DJ box, which was quite high above the dance floor, to see what they were all staring at, but… nothing, Then I noticed a small figure staring up adoringly at Mitzi (even with her headphones on she’s a beautiful woman).  He came up the steps to to the side and leant over  – she reluctantly took off her headphones as she was in the middle of doing a mix (why DO people  always do that?) and he said to her:  ‘can I get a request?’

She laughed and replied. ‘Sorry, I don’t do requests.’ And put her headphones back on!  Prince (for it was he) looked dejected and went back to sit with his band  and Clapton and company in the ‘VIP VIP ‘area. I nudged her and we grinned and shrugged our shoulders.  Later, his drunken record label people were drunkenly slagging me off about ‘the incident’.   ‘Mitzi is her own woman.’  I’d stated emphatically.  Despite that minor setback, it was another awesome night, capping three of the most amazing nights of my life.  And I was payed lots of money to enjoy myself too!

I blink and see the green hedgerows and rolling hills of Cornwall through the front window of the old double-decker as it trundles up and down hills. Coming out of my deliciously nostalgic reverie, I realise that Queensbury is the next stop. I ring the bell in the nick of time,  get off the bus and wander down the hill through the unbelievably picturesque seaside village, chuckling to myself at the disparity between its multi-coloured cottages and genteel ambience in 2010, and Prince’s opulent after-show parties in 1987 and the gay scene and rave clubs in Ibiza in 1988.  Is it really thirty three years?  Wowee. Tempus fugit.

I stop-off at the shop and buy some stuff to cook for dinner.  A chicken breast, a large leek, a red capsicum, baby potatoes, mushrooms.  Some crab pate (from The Orkney islands, ironically) for a starter.  The wine bottles try to tempt with me their labels (a glass or three of Australian Shiraz… echo echo), but I successfully demur and head for the cottage along The Cleave as the late evening sun glistens on the water, lighting-up the boats bobbing in the bay, before setting behind the hill. Sigh.  Organising and attending Prince’s parties and meeting Topher at Amnesia was magical, but so is this.

Penelope, the charmingly eccentric woman who lives in the cottage next door-but-one is sitting on the sea wall with a glass of chilled white wine (…echo echo).

‘Hello Thom!’ She chimes in her upper-class voice (she’s a former opera singer), ‘What are you cooking tonight – would you like some herbs from the garden?’

‘Hi Penelope,’ I reply.  ‘I’d love some basil if you’ve got some.  I’m making roast chicken breast with leeks, garlic and mushrooms and roast baby potatoes with red pepper.’

‘Mmm, sounds delicious, you know I love your recipes. Let’s get you some basil now. Don’t forget to show me your creation when it’s ready!’

I follow her into the lovely, terraced garden behind her house (we don’t have  one as we’re on the corner) and she picks a large bunch for me.  It smells delicious.

After an excellent dinner (only one thing missing… echo echo), I see my red notebook, with my marker indicating that I’m nearly reaching the end. I pick it up and open it.   I wonder which date the book I’ll randomly chose to read next will be – maybe the 70s?  That should be interesting too!

“Back in London. 4.9.1988.  Sunday 3pm.

Refreshed, relaxed, happy, healthy and brown.  Still clean-shaven.  Feeling inspired by my songwriting.

Where is Tony McCord? He said he was flying over from LA this week. No word from him.  I can’t wait to see him – I’m always so happy to spend quality time with him.

Yet,  he also makes me so sad, because my love is unrequited. Does he really not find me attractive – someone whom he shows so much love for – or is there something I don’t know – another mysterious-yet-valid reason?  Or is it that I’m just not ‘his type’?

Anthony Parker has resurfaced, just in the last few days, to become one of my best black/male/gay friends in London again. He’s very funny, hunky (he’s been working out), handsome intelligent, entertaining, badly-behaved, deep and clever. He came round to dinner last night and I read his cards (he’s got the love of his life coming soon, it would seem –  so I guess we won’t be having the odd shag like we used to) and then, nervously, played him some of my new songs, hot off the press. He seemed genuinely amazed by them and very complimentary.  His favourite was ‘Barcelona’.  I wrote the music soon after I got back from that very place last week. I’m very pleased with it – it’s a beautiful melody.

I called Mitzi as soon as I got back from the airport (what a nightmare journey that was – having to spend the night in a hotel with no money in Valencia as my flight was diverted because of the massive storms in the UK and then there was no tube operating from Heathrow, just massive queues for non-existent ‘replacement’ buses). I told her about the lyrics that I’d written whilst away in Spain, and said, jokingly, that I was going to write the music right now!  Much to my amazement, I got the bones of a beautiful, strangely old-fashioned melody straight away, just like that! From the other side. In 3/4 time. Very unusual, satisfying and inspiring.

Something is definitely stirring.

Mitzi and I are off to Paris for the weekend on the night ferry from Dover tonight. I had a fleeting bad/strange feeling about something relating to the trip, but I just checked the cards and it seems to be quite unfounded – at least in the short term.

Following my experiences with the automatic writing in Ibiza, I decided to  briefly call The Medium Line to check on my intuitions. I told the medium woman (so to speak) that whilst I was on holiday I’d experienced a strong feeling from spirit that I could be a trance medium myself –  ie a channeller (the English channel, of course).  She said that I was blessed with ‘the gift’, but would be unlikely to pursue a career in that field, as I was more concerned with with being creative, but that I would bring it on when necessary – either spontaneously with total strangers, or, more likely, with good friends. She also said that she could see the words ‘beauty’ and ‘beat’, no it was ‘beast’, and she could hear a waltz, like the music to an old-fashioned black and white film, it was French, set in Paris. How very intriguing.

On Wednesday, Mitzi came to dinner and afterwards I thought it would interesting to try and go into a trance.  It turned out to be really quite easy and natural, but I stopped myself, having proved that I could slip into one, because she was staying over and had to get up pretty early to do some film-extra work. She was worried about getting to sleep (it was already after midnight) and getting up on time. I suddenly came out with a phrase from the automatic writing in Ibiza:  Hamni An Oublie At.  It was a bit like some sort of Buddhist chant and told her to repeat this over and over, holding a little piece of turquoise glass (ah!) from my ‘glass bead game’ on the beach in Barcelona. It instantly became hot as she chanted and… she was asleep in five minutes.  Hey – maybe it was the red wine, but… eenteresting regardless.

6. 9.1988. Paris.  Hotel America. 3.30pm.

I thought I should at least record the fact the we’re HERE – and having such a good time that there’s simply no time to write about it!

I am, at least, writing the lyrics to a potential song called ‘The Beauty And The Beast’ (amongst others) which chronicles our wild weekend in Paris.  We somehow managed to get invited to the a lavish Jean-Paul Gaultier party in some theatre in Bastille, I think (or was it La Marais – anyway it was beyond fabulous),  and both met hot and handsome men and got laid!  Mine was one of the podium dancers and was called Raphael – dressed as a Gaultier cowboy.  He’s just 18 and an aspiring model;  French, but of Armenian ancestry. Mitzi’s man was a beautiful mixed-race guy (more MY type really) of 25 called Philipe, who’s a part-time model. I’ll let the words and music  take over the narrative.

*Click on the title Alert *

The Beauty And The Beast

A tale of two cities,  a fifties movie in monochrome,

reading Tarot in The Tuilleries, they saw that France would be her home.

The wine was velvet valium, as they dined by candlelight,

talking of their conquests and laughing with delight.

They danced with Gallic cowboys at a Gaultier soiree,

Then slept with perfect strangers in a film-noir verite.

And they felt they were fated, ghosts of honour at the feast –

the place names on the table read: the beauty and the beast.

They were actors in a film that could not ever be released…

it was sweet, but it was bitter, for the beauty and the beast.

Bleary-eyed, with secret smiles, they slept right through the day,

then found two could-be lovers in a jungle hideaway.

Lost in conversation, bodies touching as they spoke,

whilst  music played and bodies swayed in coloured lights and smoke.

She said: ‘Il est heureux‘. He said: ‘mais il est triste‘,

The moment passed, it could not last  for the beauty and the beast.

They were figures in a painting, a forgotten masterpiece…

with two perfect strangers waving to the beauty and beast.

She said: ‘Il est heureux‘. He said: ‘mais il est triste‘,

The moment passed, it could not last  for the beauty and the beast.

Words (Paris) and music (London by Thom Topham. September 1988 © Copyright Control.

12.9.1988. Back in Paris with Mitzi. 4.30pm.

Waiting for Raphael to come round to The Hotel America.  Mitzi and I get a really cheap deal here – just £25 a night (that’s because of Wilderness Paris, of course, but I don’t want to think about that right now, as I’ve walked-out of The Sure Organisation, essentially because of Adrian’s coke habit and sudden desire to take control of the creative side of the business.. byee!).   It’s just around the corner from Paris’s trendiest, large club Le Palais.  My room looks out on to Les Folies Bergeres.  I’ve just seen Mitzi off after a late lunch in St Germain.  Ironically, she has to go back to London to DJ tonight at – dammit! – the last night of Sodom And Gomorrah, The Sure Organisation’s highly successful Thursday night at Nirvana for over a year – perhaps its success was PR-led by the whole Prince-on-the-balcony scenario the year before and the fact that the second dance floor was London first-ever rare groove/jazzy space and attracted loads of really good break dancers.  But Nirvana’s management suddenly decided to close it because of a random fight which happened at THE OTHER CLUB around the back!  Nothing to do with the fact that the clientele at Sodom & Gomorrah is largely BLACK then?  The management at Nirvana are decidedly RACIST. Grrrrr.  Regardless of its demise (like, fuck you Nirvana!) I’m going back tomorrow, late, on a flight at 9.30pm because I’m stealing a much anticipated second night of passion with Raphael tonight.  And I’ve resigned from my directorship of The Sure Organisation, so no longer have to be there. This is all very well, but what the hell am I going to live on? It’s autumn in Paris and, true to form, incredibly romantic, but I could be… waiting for the fall.

13.9.1988. The evening after.  5.30pm. Hotel America.

A poem.

With Debussy On The Radio

Soft hairs on soft skin, into soft eyes I dive. Hard-on on hard muscles, burying my head in his musky heat.

I run my tongue from his head to his feet. He murmurs in French and groans. He wants me inside of him.

We are synchronised swimmers in waves of erotic emotion, knowing each other’s need with an intuitive harmony.

I am nearly old enough to be his father, but it seems he’d rather have it that way. Any day.

We smile directly, comfortable in our compatability, flowing around the contours of the landscape of love.

There is sweetness – and light at the end of the tunnel, a respite from biting tongues and sleazy dark indulgence.

After we climax in unison, we curl into a comfortable cocoon. I say ‘This is my best part’

as I run feather-fingers over his temples and caves, making him sigh in a deep sleep,

keeping the faith alive, believing that we can thrive on deep interaction

bubbling from the earth like natural hot springs.

We bring each other to life, smiles and energy rising, from the well of the lonely soul.

Always the idealist who suffers the pain of others along with his own private longing,

we belong to no small-talk society existing with vacuum-packed optimism on the shelf,

alongside the cheaper brands of pessimism which wait to be noticed and placed in suspended animation

in someone else’s deep freeze.

The joy of being away from established patterns of behaviour and thought and caught in a cloud of French kisses.

The hits and the misses momentarily forgotten;  the rotten eggs and the bad apples confined to the dustbin

in the drugged-out world of Alice In Wonderland.

Soon he will come to my blue room with his photographs, dressed like an aspiring model in black.

Then I will pull down his trousers and enter his consciousness via his rippling back

and we will squeeze each other until the light fades and we are drifting into a pink and grey Parisian dusk…

with Debussy on the radio.

16.9. 1988.  For 24/7  Magazine’s 20th anniversary issue.

They’ve asked me to write a piece called  ‘Twenty Years Of Cruising’.

My first-ever journalistic endeavour!

‘1968. I’m 16.  I attend a grammar school in the centre of  Bristol. My 22 year-old boyfriend picks me up some days from school in his car, dressed in his tennis shorts, smelling of fresh sweat. We make love in fields, woods and barns. I met him at the bus station, in the toilets.

1969.  For some inexplicable reason, I find myself chairing a crowded meeting of The Gay Liberation Front in Powis Square in Notting Hill, in that community centre  (no longer there) where Pink Floyd  had played their debut gig.  With hindsight, I think ‘the committee’ asked me to do it because I was a rather good-looking young man.  The only politics I noticed were the interaction of eyes between the participants and the scribbled exchange of phone numbers on the GLF’s fliers.  That’s not to decry the importance of The GLF in successfully kick-starting public awareness of gay oppression and homophobia in all areas of public and private life.

1970.  At my 18th birthday party in my shared bedsit in Clifton Hill in Bristol, I stand up on a chair and declare to the assembled throng that I’m bisexual.  I was. The only person who took offence was my sort-of girlfriend.  I never saw her again.

1972. I find myself visiting Earl’s Court, at the centre of the London gay universe. THE happening club was The Catacombes. which was a coffee bar in a cellar at the top of Finborough Road. – and it didn’t even have a drinks licence.  Everyone used to get off their faces on mandrax or speed – with dance-floor popper-boosters.  It was jam-packed every night and the music was brilliant – all the best soul imports from the US, like The Staples Singers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Vickie-Sue Robinson and George McCrae.  I rarely went home alone in those carefree BA (before AIDS) days.  There was another little club around the corner – its name at the time escapes me – but I cherish the memory of seeing Charles Hawtrey (of Carry On fame) there with two bottle-blond-with-fringes rent boys. On another occasion, (I’m loving the  fabulous cultural contrast), I met the famous beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg there, and he appeared to be with the same two boys!

1973.  I move to London aged 21 and find a squat to live in  in a lovely Georgian house in Somerstown in Camden.  I have the whole ground floor to myself – two interconnecting rooms with original features and a real fireplace.  No bathroom though.

1975.  American, gay tourists start appearing in London sporting short hair, moustaches Levi 501s, clumpy brown leather or swuede work boots and plaid shirts. I’d always worn 501s myself, as I thought they were sexy, especially when naturally faded, and initially I thought that this influx of  allegedly masculine men was sent from heaven, but I soon realised that these ‘clones’ (as they were  soon to become labelled) were generally rather unimaginative, dull and boring.  And the music that went with this alleged style statement!?  Gay Disco entered my consciousness with all the subtlety of hydraulic drill outside my bedroom window.  The horror! I didn’t need or relate to this nouveau-ghetto mentality. I was an individual, not a faceless, pseudo-macho blob!

1977.  The Cococabana opens in Earl’s Court.  Mostly clone city  – and they STILL play that awful goddam gay disco music now!  A famous rock star with a moustache and zany comedian with a beard used to hang-out there all the time – in clone mode.  Once, Rock Hudson tried to pick me up there and I turned him and his fat belly down, having soon realised that he just wanted sex with me – not an intellectual discourse about the actors studio and James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Tenesse Williams. I could rarely find anyone interesting to talk to, so I sometimes ended up shouting random drunken abuse at the slightly startled throng.  It was fun! Then I’d walk home home to Notting Hill through Holland Walk (it’s about a quarter of mile long) singing soulful improvisations at the trees – this is possibly the most visually stunning gay cruise in the UK – and would often end up taking someone home and insisting on having an actual conversation with them until six in the morning (they were mostly looking for just sex) – then eventually making LOVE – or hoping to. I was slightly too old to be a punk and found it, frankly, decidedly unromantic, although I liked the rebellious side of it. And I was hanging-out with The Sex Pistols. But there was a new breed of young, ‘alternative’ gays looking for somewhere to relate to.  They found it on Sundays at The Bell in King’s Cross, but even that whole scene evolved into its own nouveau cloneism – everyone looked pretty much the same. All you had to do was shave your head on the sides and back and dress like Jimi Sommerville.

1982.  I open The Mine in Soho on a Thursday night out of sheer frustration with gay music, ghettoism, cloneism and gay male-only elitism.  I wanted to give ‘the scene’ a soul injection, in every meaning of the word.  A meat injection! On the flier and with the PR I’d exhorted people to ‘bring their friends, their mothers and their brothers and sisters’ to the opening night.  It worked.  It was packed with the first-ever truly gay-mixed crowd – black, white, gay straight and lesbian (and Susan Sarandon) –   I’m proud to have pulled that off. And the music? The best of American black streety soul music – rap was just breaking out – mixed with spiky British Synthpop like The Human League, Depeche Mode and Soft Cell. It was firing. And there was the roof which was accessible only via the fire escape from the gent’s toilet.  It was usually full of half-naked male bodies making out.  Diiiirty!

1983.  Adrian Oasthouse has a hugely successful, alternative gay/mixed Wednesday night at Nirvana called Bedlam and I approach him with an idea to team-up and open a reasonably-priced Monday night at Trilby’s, where I’ve already set the wheels in motion. Our night Wilderness becomes a huge success. Things were changing and suddenly certain gay club nights in London (following New York’s lead with The Paradise Garage and many others) were becoming hip and fashionable for all the right reasons.

1988.  My partnership with Adrian has matured into our company  The Sure Organisation –  and we’re currently running cool, alternative and funky club nights on every night of the week – with two on a Friday at the moment!  The gay scene has had a wake-up call and is now leading, rather than following its own toxic vapour trail. The 80s seems to have been about Thatcher and AIDS, but now most people  in  London’s cool, alternative clubland are having a whale of a time and fighting the nascent negativity and prejudice with love, optimism and creativity.”

Here endeth the red notebook from 1988 and the many memories that it triggered, by reading it again for the for first time since I wrote it.  To say that a whole lot has changed in those 30-odd years would be an obvious understatement.  There was so much more that I could have written about the amazing weekends that Mitzi and I spent in Paris, the irony being that it was such a good time, which meant that I had no time to write prose; just poems and potential (at the time) lyrics.  The ‘medium woman’ had been spot-on in her prediction on the phone. The waltz from an old, black and white French movie was, of course ‘The Beauty And The Beast’ (I trust that you clicked the hyperlink to hear it), the tale of our wonderful nights of  wild excess and romance.  And the food… oh, the food. We were so young, so gorgeous, so exuberant and so happy to be there!  The vivid,  visual memories of the misty, golden light of Paris in the autumn will stay with me forever.  I must call Mitzi and reminisce – if she can tear herself away from taxiing her three boys around South London swimming pools (two of them are turning into champions in the water), street-dance classes and sleep-overs, cooking wonderful dinners for them and her second husband or running her DJ Agency.  I might get five minutes if I’m lucky.  Hopefully, she might even get a chance to read this.  Dream on Thom!

Who would have thought back then that my autobiography would become a multi-media experience that could be perused ‘online’, with ‘digital pictures’and ‘links’ to my music on a thing called ‘the internet’? I’ve got to remind myself that I’m just finishing Chapter 7 and I’ve only used ONE notebook as source material so far. There are over twenty more notebooks and diaries, plus a whole heap of typewritten material – both prose and poetry, not to mention lyrics –   written  over a period of perhaps twenty years, until  I obtained my first Apple Mac in 1997.  I wonder what happened to my old electric typewriter? I think I gave it to William Keith, a screenwriter and old friend who now lives in South Wales and runs a video shop these days. I’m pretty sure, as mentioned before, that this only Volume One.  I’d better get on with it though, otherwise, as I approach my sixth decade with my previously documented, serious health issues, I might find that I could be, as it were, blogging a dead horse.

My Unplanned Obsolescence. By Thom Topham. Chapter 6

25 Aug

The Living Room Window Looking Out To Sea

A Stately Home And A Baleairic Castle

Maddox is sitting beside me at the antique, oval table in the living room of  the cottage.  I could have sworn I felt him gently stroke my left arm just now as I gazed out of the window and across the beach, whilst eating sliced banana and honey on wholemeal toast and slowly working my way through a large pot of tea (one bag of Tetleys, and one of peppermint which I drink with honey, no milk), while checking, or trying to check, my emails. He was speaking quietly into my left ear in that wonderful warm, Scottish burr: ‘I’m so sorry I ever doubted you, I should have been more trusting, I guess I must have been obsessively jealous and paranoid. That’s why I’m here for you now. You were there for me, and I blew it and now I’m on the other side… but it’s all beautiful, it’s another dimension and really hard to explain.’

I’m sure that’s what he said, even if I didn’t entirely trust my own psychic ‘ears’ (we rarely do – it generally scares us shitless and we need to remind ourselves that ‘the first thing that comes into your head’ is actually ‘it’).  I didn’t ‘cheat’ on him ever:  only in mutual sense, when we’d had our one and only threesome – and that was about six months after we’d split-up.  It was with a guy I was vaguely seeing at the time, which might look a bit twisted, on paper, I suppose.  He was the original oily Levantine – in terms of central casting – but, in reality, I felt little for him emotionally apart from the fact that he was worldly, wickedly intellectual, intellectually wicked – and witty with it.  I really just wanted to be with my beautiful and once-so-compatible Maddox again. Which doesn’t quite explain why me and Garfunkel, the oily one, both fucked Maddox – at the same time. He was not best pleased:  it must have hurt, in more ways than… two.  Then again, he didn’t stop us. I’ve always felt bad about that.  Maybe it was a form of revenge from me for him not trusting me and thereby creating ‘I will definitely be dumped’,  his self-fulfilling prophesy .

I never understood it and never will.  Despite that, he’s now he’s an angel on my shoulder.  My left one, I think.

Talking of self-fulfilling, my despicable little ‘broadband’ dongle is now threatening to become entirely obsolescent – the emails are slowly slithering into my in-box like snails on valium. I could simply resort to my iPhone, but that would be defeating the object and allowing the money-grabbing, totally inept, new-media, corporate bastards to win.   I look out of the windows at the clear blue sky and the blistering sunlight glistening on the waves, check the time – it’s One O’Clock – and decide it’s time to hit the heathery high road to the glorious gardens of  Harbinger Hall, the beautiful, pink-walled Tudor stately home, which is about an hour’s walk away, depending on which route you take. The one over the top of the hill, through the deer park, is the fastest way to wander in, and marvel at, the magical formal gardens designed by Capability Brown, that super-star creator of follies, fountains and fantastic visions and vistas.  His ‘planting’ was pretty amazing too, as my horticulturalist younger brother Austin (AKA Grizelda, as opposed to ‘Powers’) would inform me.  Shame I’ve only caught the very tail-end of the flowering season for the rhododendrons and azaleas. Those jewel colours would look spectacular in this intense sunshine as it sends multiple golden shafts of light through the trees.

I put my two digital cameras (a fairly new Canon EOS 30D and an older Sony Cybershot that I bought in NYC in 2004) into my knapsack, along with a mini-umbrella (just a precaution), a cold bottle of water, the red 1988 notebook, my laptop (so I can check if the dreaded dongle works better nearer to Plymouth) and a light,  cotton V-neck sweater in pistachio green. I’m wearing a white T-shirt from Asda (they’re the cheapest and the best), light-green camouflage cut-offs and a pair of sandals that I bought in Bangkok in 2003;  well, they’re not really sandals, they’re more like open trainers – with velcro-straps – you know the type.  They’ve lasted all these years and are very comfortable and cool to walk in, although, in sunshine like this, you guaranteed to get a suntanned pattern on your feet.  Back then, Tommy Haslam – who’d taken me to Thailand as a treat – called them my ‘Wolfies’.  He insisted that ‘they were the evil footwear of an eponymous German paedophile who worked as a guide at the Dachau museum, trying to lure unsuspecting visiting youths into the former gas chambers for some one-to-one tuitional experiences.’ He went on, now adopting a cod-German accent: ‘Vwolfie had  been introduced to ze charmink and readily afailable chailbait off ‘Ze Golden Triangle by Harry Highlights, ze ludicrously successful glam-rocker of ze 70s, as, confeniently, he ran his (now defunct, due to Harry’s propensity for teenaged girls) Cherman fan club. Heil Harry!’

Tommy… I miss your wonderfully wicked humour. I chuckle at the memory as I cross The Field Of Gravity (as I call it), heading for the proverbial hills.  The locals know it as The Whinnybrow (must be derived from some ancient, Arthurian Cornish myth, or something), and it’s essentially the sweepingly picturesque ‘park’ of the twin villages, stretching for several acres atop the low, wooded cliffs above the assorted sandy, pebbly and rocky beaches below.  But I’ve always known it as the place where me and myriad friends visiting the cottage over the decades (yes, decades!) would come and talk and drink and marvel at the moonlit sea and the extravagantly starlit sky at night when we were totally drunk and/or stoned.  Why The Field Of Gravity?  Because it sloped so steeply that one would inevitably end up at the bottom, and would be in danger of being pricked by the gorse bushes, or, even more scarily, kidnapped by pirates (ooh arrgh!), or perhaps by  hard-pressed, local paedophiles who would probably make-do with pretty people in their twenties, or even thirties, given half a chance.

On this occasion, of course, I’m not drunk, certainly not in my twenties or thirties, and manage to remain on the broad path (dotted with wooden benches at regular intervals) at the top of the meadow-cum-park, which looks like it’s been freshly-mown.  Actually it hasn’t;  it’s organic.  The clue is in the little piles of tiny brown balls that dot the grass and the regular sight of fluffy white tails disappearing into the bushes as I approach.  A veritable army of Disney-esque, lawn-mowing rabbits!  Even when I was a heavy drinker (like last week), I never, ever drank in the day (unless I’d been up all night, of course) – even on holiday, apart from once or twice, like that time in The South Of France, during a fabulous five-course lunch in a garden overlooking the River Tarn in Albi (the birth-place of Toulouse Lautrec) in, um… perhaps the mid-80s? – with my outrageously camp French friend Genet (I’ll wait for him to ‘pop-up’ in the notebooks, like a trendy one-off , left-field club night in Whoreditch/Shoho). Yes, I know; I’ve stated that I don’t generally have camp gay friends, but Genet is a lovely old Gallic queen with a big heart and soul and is very, very funny and extremely badly behaved. He claims that he lived  – as a lover – with Firing Javelin, an enormously successful reggae star in Jamaica, for seven years in the 70s – and indeed, he probably did. He told me that there was this whole group of reggae stars who were all living the DL (‘down-low’) lie back then –  and the only batty men that they were  ‘shooting up’ were… their own bredren – and/or vice-versa. Isaac Edwards and Gregory Dennis were more big names that he mentioned who apparently used to hang out around Javelin’s pool and who maybe invented the whole concept of DL, perhaps in some sort of unspoken collusion with their American and British ‘brothers in arms’.  How underground is that?  And still the PR-led DL denial goes on. There are so many huge R&B , hip-hop and sports stars who are gay, or at least conveniently bisexual, who will probably remain in the closet that stays closed… forever. The lion (of Babylon and Judah), the witch and the wardrobe. And R Kelly.

Genet once took me to Paris for the weekend,  at around the same time in the 80s (the actual date is, not surprisingly, lost in time).  His bank had mistakenly credited his account with gazillions of Francs. So we lived the highlife in an outrageously extravagant and decadent, five-star, champagne and cocaine-fueled fashion, eating at all the best restaurants (and in Paris that really does mean good) and buying complete strangers (who we probably fancied) drinks in stupidly expensive  night clubs like Les Bains Douche and Le Palais.  It was fantastic.  And, better still,  the bank never discovered their mistake until much later, when it was too late.  Genet had disappeared under something of a cloud (it transpired he’d been somewhat ‘flexible’ with the accounts of the trendy French restaurant he ran in Soho for many years), only to surface in the Seychelles, where his brother, conveniently,  ran a 5-star hotel.  He lived there in luxury for many years, before relocating to Tunisia after a near-fatal car crash.  We recently ‘friended’ on People Pages after nearly thirty years, so he was able to update me.  I just wish he wouldn’t call me ‘sweetie’  online in public and would at least attempt to speak better English after all these years. What will my fans think? ‘Hay – hoo give a fuk, mon petit choux!’ As Genet would say.

I’m walking in brilliant sunshine, the wide reaches of the gravitational meadow are bordered above, to the left, by wonderfully evocative (Tolkein, perhaps?) windswept woods, where the trees are universally bent in the same direction, shaped by the prevailing winds.  After about a quarter of a mile, the track narrows into a sandy/gravelly path sheltered by hedgerows on each side, bursting with wildlife and flowers, with regular views of the sea to the right, woodland and gorse to the left and of the forest and gardens and deer park of Harbinger Hall up ahead. Then it takes you briefly into the forest, and a sun dappled dingley dell, and before long you’re out into the sunshine again.  Crickets twizzle,  birds twitter (although not literally, in the sense of social networking), and today, at least, the sun beats down wonderfully remorselessly whilst sea gulls (and the occasional birds of prey) circle and squawk in the azure heavens, coasting on the warm-air currents.  Is there anything more deliciously sensual than the feel of the sea breeze cooling the hot sunshine on your skin and making it, and your heart, tingle and glow? Then, when it gets dark later and you chill-out, you see that the feeling on your skin and in your heart persists, and is a wonderful therapy to repel all the evils of the world – at least temporarily.

I take photos, using both cameras.  I want to compare them later. Sometimes the ones on the cheaper Sony actually look better than those taken using the ludicrously expensive Cannon, with its SLR technology. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really been that interested in the minutiae of taking pictures;  I just have a good eye. I know how to compose and frame stuff and, hopefully, to capture a moment or a feeling without losing that sponaneity by twiddling knobs and dials and squinting into an LED display – especially in this bright sunlight – trying to make sense of meaningless squiggles, symbols and mumbo-jumbo.  Point and shoot say I!  I’ve just got to find that perfect ‘default’ setting on the Canon again, the one that Tommy Haslam set-up for me when he sold me the camera and its 50m lens about four years ago. It used to work for everything (no flash required, even at night, providing the lighting was bright enough), but my dear brother Danny (a professional photographer) ‘lost it’ when I asked him to take pictures of  me and The Eagle Kings at The Pavilion in Bath earlier this year.  I don’t blame him – he’d just assumed that I would know what it was, but I didn’t. And Tommy  had never explained the details – he’d just set it up for me, and it was perfect, regardless of whether you were using auto-focus, the default camera setting on the main dial, or the other more arcane ones like ‘AV’ (no, I don’t know what it means either).

I can hardly email Tommy now and ask him what it  actually was, seeing as he has disowned me, as mentioned before, for reasons best known to his dark (and formerly fabulous) self.  I hope he misses me like I miss him. He sure as hell should, after all I did for him over over the years. The list  of my good works is quite lengthy, but  did I get no recognition at all (a platinum disc would have been nice) for the fact that I introduced him (as his pseudonym Flounder) and his musical partner (Flatfish) to the label that was to release what was to become their million-selling, number one single in 1998 ?  Maybe he was testing me when he told me, blow-by-blow, in that devastating phone call just before new year, that he really didn’t feel he could be friends with me any more.  Did he want to see just how much I needed his friendship?  I don’t think so; I may be wrong, but it could be the case.  I believe that he’d already made-up his mind that I was ‘good gone bad’, or something.  I also think that his Churchillian black dog got the better of him.  Perhaps it was subjugated by my very own devils on horseback.  I wonder whose depression rated higher on the Thom Topham-invented trauma-ometer, at least in his book?

*Music alert! If you’re reading this online, please have your headphones ready, or your speakers on – then click the hyperlinks.*

I’ve never revelled in my depression myself, nor used it as some kind of egotistical,  emotional blackmail (yes; people who are depressed can also be egotistical and warp it to their supposed advantage).  To me, it’s always something to get over – to beat.  But I’m not bipolar,  I just suffer from depression due to… well, a whole heap of stuff; but mostly, my bona fide status as an alien on this earth, and an unsuccessful one at that.  A lot of people just don’t get me.  Well, that’s because I’m  from planet Thom – and possibly a ‘genius in a sea of mediocrity’, as my favourite ‘ex’ Luther once dubbed me.  Or as Van Morrison sang decades ago on Astral Weeks ‘I’m nothing but a stranger in this world’.   Boy, did I relate to that back in 1968.  Nutshelled nicely Van! And one of my all-time favourite songs – and it’s only got two chords! – on one of the greatest albums ever made.  Much more relevant than ‘The Outsider’ by Camus, ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ or, indeed ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath and pretty much anything by Queen (apart from Another One Bites The Dust and Under Pressure, with David Bowie).

Rites of passage?  Yeah –  right up your own arses!  Okay, I’m deeply pissed-off at my own lack of success and/or recognition, but I just don’t understand how or why music that is basically mediocre and utterly lacking in soul or substance becomes not only hugely successful, but also allegedly iconic.  Why – because it doesn’t challenge anything other than people’s compliance with the norm? What about emotional reactions?  I get the feeling that most people go through life walking down a stoic, unchallenging and dreary path – and perhaps showbiz is their only fizz. What else is ‘pomp rock’ but showbiz? That includes many of the so-called ‘indie’ bands.  Yeah right duuuude.  Read and believe:  Muse and Green Day will end-up playing Vegas in a decade or so. No doubt  in cahoots with some vaguely esoteric and supposedly ‘ground-breaking’ most-podern ((c) Thom Topham) twiddly waddly circus troupe de nos jours.

The path meanders along the wooded cliffs for about another quarter of a mile, then opens up into scrubland and reaches a kissing gate. These strangely British contraptions always evoke memories of me in my young teens – I grew-up in an urban country village –  with my various girlfriends:  I would always make it de rigeur to have an actual kiss over the gate, even if it was only on the cheek.

To the right there’s a Boy Scout encampment in an idyllic spot overlooking the sea:  this triggers more childhood and early-teen flash-backs – all those silly songs we used to sing around the campfire like ‘Gin gang gooly gooly gooly ging gang, ging gang goo, ging, gang goo…’  and other complete, harmless nonsense.  And I was never abused, sexually or otherwise, by Akela or any of the Scoutmasters either.  It’s pleasing to debunk myths sometimes – especially as someone who is happily homosexual (if not entirely happily human). I do recall fiddling about with my fellow scouts in our tents at night now and then, which was fun.  I was a Sixer too! In my mind I won the imaginary Friend-Fiddler badge!

In front of the kissing gate there’s a beautiful, isolated home which looks like a 50s gingerbread house.  It has a lovely landscaped garden with a large lily pond. Look! A huge orange and turquoise dragon fly! I cross the lane that leads, on the right,  to Fort Ficklecombe, a rather bleak-looking, megalithic semi-circular structure built on the rocks, which was converted in the 70s into maybe thirty ‘luxury flats’, all with impressive sea views and their own 007-esque harbour.  I’ve seen pictures of the interiors in estate agents’ windows though, and they look pokey and almost suburban. A style-free zone. Like so many British homes. The bane of the officers of the taste-police.  Naturally, I’m a superintendent, at least.

Through another kissing gate (banish any lonely thoughts) and I’m climbing the hill, which is dotted with yellow-flowering gorse bushes, and rising steeply ahead of me.  I am now in the extensive grounds  of Harbinger Hall – around eight hundred acres –  and heading for the scenically persuasive (I’m thinking of instigating a rock/cultural festival here) deer park on the plateau above.  Question:  why is grass at the seaside always springy?  The hill is like a giant grassy green beanbag! As I rise hundreds of feet, I turn back and look at the amazing view of the twin villages and Smugglers Spur, and the fertile hills beyond, and the now tiny boats bobbing in sparkling waters of the bay.  Breathtaking.  A water skier cuts a swathe through the calm waters out in Raleigh Sound, the speedboat sounding like an angry wasp.  I sit down on the natural, grassy cushion, drink some water and take some pictures. Since I left the village I haven’t seen a soul so far… not one, single person. In my head, I realise that I’m singing ‘Nature Boy‘, a beautiful old classic song, my favourite version being the George Benson one, although the song was first a hit for Nat King Cole (what a beautiful, deep, velvety voice!).  I wonder if he wrote it?

There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy… they say he wandered very far, very far, over land and sea…

I Google ‘Nature Boy’ on my iPhone, wondering if there’ll be a WiFi signal up here and –  miracles!  –  there is, although slow.  It transpires from Wikipedia that the song was written by one Eden Ahbez and was published in the US in 1947.  Intriguingly, Ahbez was apparently a member of one of the very first hippie-like communes in Los Angeles at the time (that was even pre-beatnik) and the song was allegedly a paean to their evidently radical, pioneering lifestyle. It also features the same melody as parts of Dvorak’s piano quintet No 2 in A, I read, but it’s not known if this was a coincidence, or actual plagiarism. But the lyrical denoument is surely one of the best lines ever:

‘The greatest thing you could ever learn is to love and be loved in return.’

You’re telling ME Eden Ahbez!  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  Imagine if that person was sitting next to me right now? I’ve never heard the Massive Attack/Bowie version either.  I’ll have to wait – I didn’t bring my headphones out today.  I’m not really a listener of Mp3s with headphones clamped onto my ears.  I like the sound of what’s all around me… and I spend hours working on, and listening to music at home. My own. So the sounds of nature, and of the city, are fine by me, when I’m not slaving over a hot MAC.

Suddenly, I feel a cool breeze brushing my face.  Thanks Maddox. Thanks. Deep breath.  I bite my lip, push myself up of the grass, dust myself down, put my bag on my shoulder and we… carry on up the hill.  Various species of  magnificent trees (Oaks, Ashes, Beeches, Silver Birches and more) are intricately detailed in the brilliant sunshine, against a dazzling electric blue sky.  Not a cloud, not even in my heart – at least temporarily – to be seen, as I cross the deer park.  Not a deer to be seen (I would have loved to have said ‘hello deer’ – in an Australian accent, naturally – if one had materialised) either, only hundreds, no, thousands of sheep, raising their heads from chewing the grass and staring at me intently as if to say: ‘Excuse me, who are you and why are you here in our lovely meadows? Have you got any grass?’

Now I can see Plymouth stretching out before me, across the Tamar estuary and the marina. The city is an ugly mass of greyness, apart (in terms of colour) from those three 60s residential tower blocks, which have unpleasant patterns on them painted in primary colours, and the red and white-striped little lighthouse on The Hoe (who you callin’ a hoe?!).

The sea is now on three sides, teeming with boats, ships, cat and trimarans, gin-palaces, jet-skis:  to my right The Sound becomes the Atlantic – a huge Santander ferry heading to Spain sounds its foghorn as if to make that point – and to my left I see a series of salty creeks and lakes dotted with boats, surrounded by little villages, farms and fertile fields and forests.  The sheep scatter as I amble through the fields making my way to the magical gardens of Harbinger Hall. I see the first folly – a fake ruin – which signals that it’s time to descend the hill to the sensual awakening that awaits.

I open the gate (and close it behind me, as requested on a notice – as if they needed to say it) and enter an enchanted forest.  Despite the fact that the glorious blooms of the rhododendrons and azaleas are, sadly, mostly depleted, I’m still immediately transported into a sylvan, bucolic wonderland as I follow the slowly spiralling, sun-dappled path down to the water. Capability (it was a nickname, his real name was the equally flamboyant Lancelot) created these wonderful vistas and they lift the spirits and make you want to keep on keeping on,  all follies notwithstanding. I pass the lake and the willow at the bottom of the valley, photograph the neo-classical white ‘temple’ folly to my right, then turn left, walking along the path that runs besides the rocky sea shore and then across the gently rolling lawns of Harbinger Hall, before entering the formal garden through a large double-door-sized gap in what must be the biggest hedge in the world.  It has to be one hundred meters-long-by-ten-meters-high! Then suddenly you’re in another magical world – it’s very Alice In Wonderland – and you have a variety of delicious visual and scenic options to chose from.  There’s the exotic fern and palm garden to your left, the well-ordered and colourful symetry of the parterre garden to your right, the English country garden straight ahead, the topiary garden further to the right and the tropical garden, with its apparently spontaneous ‘geyser’ fountain which suddenly spouts and falls onto giant pebbles as you pass by  (it’s actually triggered by an infra-red, remote control).

*Check the slideshow above if you’re reading this online.* 

My rumbling tummy reminds me that I must get to The Orangery for a late lunch, before it closes. It’s a huge, stunning beautiful and perfectly symmetrical, white, single-storey Georgian building with giant sash windows about twenty feet tall, set in a formal Italianite garden with a very grand, baroque central fountain and ne0-classical statuary.  Inside, there’s what passes as a restaurant, with awful, cheap, cane furniture and unpleasant fixtures and glass-fronted fridges and chill cabinets that make it look like a wannabe motorway service station. Sacrilege! Unfortunately, I find that there’s nothing left to eat but ice cream – then remember that ye olde country pubbe just outside the estate, close by where the foot ferry comes in from the marina, has been renovated quite tastefully, is under new management and serves decent, if overpriced food.  At last!  Fresh crab (with salad in a freshly baked baguette)!  Why is it so difficult to find, so close to its natural habitat?  I get a large apple juice (from a carton, not fresh) and take my lunch out to one of those ubiquitous ‘picnic tables’ which litter the British country and seaside, which look like they’re made out of glorified wooden pallets. I imagine that obese people have a bit of a problem swinging their legs around and under the table.

The baguette is stuffed full of genuinely fresh crab and exotic ingredients like red onion, chopped pimento and Lollo Rosso lettuce. Quelle Surprise! Delicious.  Of course, the bracing sea air always gives one a healthy appetite, which is something of a rarity for me, especially with my poor, malfunctioning pancreas.

Watching the boats is endlessly fascinating.  The foot-ferry moors at the pier – it’s high tide – and disgorges a motley crew, well, passengers;  they seem to be mostly local people, all chattering away with their West Country burr.  Teenagers looking like they’re about to audition for The X-Factor; the boys with that silly side-swept basin cut (how much hairspray must they need?) and skinny jeans which look SO wrong worn low on the butt, whetto-ghetto-style.  The girls walk awkwardly on too-high heels up the cobblestone jetty in tiny mini-skirts which are more like belts, wearing cut-off, stripey tank tops, cheap hair extensions and huge  earings. Then older men with wrinkly sun-baked and wind-blasted complexions in paint-spattered overalls, fat mothers with too-short skirts and badly-dyed hair wheeling double buggies holding rosy-faced, wailing kids and vast amounts of supermarket carrier bags on the handles.  Then the holiday-makers, mostly middle-class, trying to look like they’re wearing Barbour or Burberry, wielding ludicrous ‘hiking’ sticks and bulging plastic cooler bags. This being Cornwall, as opposed to Hardesden in London, the majority of the passengers are white, but there’s one Asian family, and a lone, rather handsome , young-ish black man who nods and smiles at me as he passes. I smile back thinking:  surely not?  Then I see A VW Beetle convertible coming down the road and stopping by the bus stop.  I recognise the driver as a ‘neighbour’ in the village – his daughter is married to the black guy.  Hence the smile. We met a while back.  He gets in and off they go.  I could have asked for a lift, but I can get the bus back;  I make a mental note to check the timetable – they only come about every hour but are always exactly on time.  How very un-British!

Having finished my baguette, I decide to continue reading my old, red notebook.  The sky has clouded over slightly, and it’s become slightly cooler, although the wind’s not too gusty, so I don my light cotton sweater, and turn to where I left off last time.  I was evidently still in Barcelona.

“20.8.1988

Plaza Real.

4pm

Of course, I got-up too late to get a ticket for the night-ferry to Ibiza. Everything closes here at 2pm for siesta (note:  rhymes with fiesta).  I’d wandered down to the harbour to the ticket office for the ferry, which was at the end of a rather bleak, industrial wharf, under one of the rusty towers which support the cable car as it clanks above.  There was at least a sign which said (in Spanish): Next Ferry to Ibiza.  23.30.  Yay! So, providing I can get a ticket later, I’m going on a night cruise to The White Island!

Talking of cruising, it really is the most irritatingly stupid way to carry on (Carry On Cruising?), if you look at it objectively.  Grown men, like me, wandering around in ever-decreasing circles looking for what… a fuck? Warmth? Love? I always wanted  to meet someone beautiful who was interesting to talk to.  I know, it’s a bit of a tall order, but one which I could claim to live-up to, to a degree (depending on your taste) myself.  So why should I not expect it of others? Unfortunately, the whole gay ghetto ethos of cruising is that you don’t talk, you stalk.  How mind-numbingly mundane.  I think it’s time for a change, it’s time we GREW UP!  Somebody once said that promiscuity is ‘hopping from bed-tobed in search of love’.  Maybe it was me?

Having said that, I’ll probably spend all night cruising around the ship, should I get a ticket,  looking for some sort of encounter, dependent on the quality of the male passengers and their availability, of course. Should be good for the leg muscles anyway, all those steep stairs (I imagine).

Cruising The Mediterranean (now find a rhyme for that!  Uranian, alien, subterranean?) on a beautiful ship of fools…

10pm.

I’ve just had dinner in one of the numerous restaurants that surround the Plaza Real. They’re all pretty good and not too expensive.  So I guess  I’m in ‘restaurant rotate mode’, along with the Gypsy, Spanish and African hustlers.  Have they noted that I definitely don’t ‘donate’ and have they compared notes? I certainly doubt the latter. Earlier – post-siesta-time –  I queued for what seemed like hours in the hot sun to get my ticket for the night ferry to Ibiza. Done.

In a way, I’ll be glad to get away from Barcelona, but only because it’s not quite carefree enough, as holidays destinations go (there’s always someone tapping you on the shoulder hustling for money.  One ignores them, of course.  I must learn the Spanish for ‘go away!’).  Anyway, it seems that my steely laser-eye look usually does the trick, which is a relief.  I can be a real soft-touch on occasion though. Employ METHOD man!   How long is it since I’ve been to La Isla Blanca?  Maybe four years?  I wonder how it’s changed and could it be for the worse? Have the hustlers tapping one on the shoulder moved in with the English football hooligans on agony (well, acid) and ecstasy?  I certainly will be avoiding San Antonio and hope to find somewhere to stay in Ibiza town itself. I’ve been advised that it’s better and much cheaper not to book;  just go to a gay bar when you get there and ask if they have any studio apartments for rent. A bit risky at high season, I know, but I like living dangerously.  If there are hassles and thuggery then I’m sure that I’ll be able to find placidity on Escavallet, my favourite beach in Las Salinas, which is primarily gay and nudist.  It’s right at the end of the promontary, far from the madding crowd, near an ancient tower (a former lighthouse?) which I fantasise about converting into a bijou holiday home with unbelievable views.  This sandy beach has a funky little beach bar and barbeque – well, it did last time I was here. Maybe it’s become more commercialised – it wouldn’t surprise me.  Then I can go wandering (okay, cruising) through the sand dunes and the fragrant pine forests behind the beach for hours, hoping for that  elusive holiday romance… at least for a few days. That would be wonderful. Even better if it turned into the real thing.

Why am I so deprived of emotional fulfillment?

Before dinner I had my Tarot Cards read on Las Ramblas.  It was intriguing that Gypsy Rosa Sangria (my name for her) pinpointed the apparent conflict between my head and my heart (her English was excellent), as did another clairvoyant recently, in London.  I’ve been trying to work it out. Does it mean that I over-analyse and thereby block my emotions, or that I let my emotions lead me blindly? I would have thought that my cock was the main offender in that sense.  Ibiza – watch out!

I wish that I could shake off all these irrational anxiety attacks –  where do they come from and why? – along with the infamous Barcelona eczema rash (which I develpoped the last time I was here, for some inexplicable reason).  Last time, though, it was on my the back of my neck, as opposed my back.  Maybe it has something to do with the salty water-quality measured against my emotional stress levels?  Last time, I was preoccupied (in London), or maybe even obsessed,with Jusef, someone very beautiful that I’d had amazing sex with, just once, then we’d become friends. I wanted more, but he was an uptight Persian who was not in touch with… a great deal, really.  He had a nice Italian sports car as it happens, but I was wasting my time believing we had a future.”

I remember telling my friend Steve Swindells about it at the time – and him promptly writing a song about it called ‘Breaking And Entering‘ and recording it in Pete Townsend’s Eel Pie Studios in Soho. I think it was in 1980. He tells me that his Lost Albums (of 1980) are coming out soon on Flicknife Records.  Not before time Steve!  We’ve been talking about forming a band that makes-up songs on the spot spontaneously, like at his legendary Groove jam sessions at WKD in Camden in the late-eighties and early nineties.   He’s come-up with the brilliant name The Plastic Sturgeons – and he’s got the dot com.

My iPhone plinks. I put down the book.  It’s a text from Steve Swindells.  I laugh out loud (LOL?).  That’s a bit psychic!  He’s asking if I’m having a good time and wishing he could be there too – and could I call?  I text him back to say I’ll give him a shout when I get back to the cottage and that I hope he’s okay. This makes me remember that I was going to check the dongle signal and check my emails.  I pull out my laptop and fire it up.  Eureka!  The signal is full-on.  The emails are flooding in, like the tide (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one).

I return to the diary.

“This time, my mind is full of Tony, Tony McCord.  The lost ‘chord’ (I’m feeling a song).  Tony is my obsession of a the last few years:  we’ve never had sex and I’m afraid that I’m in love with him, but, unfortunately, we’re just really, really good soul-buddy friends, when he’s in the UK, that is.  He spends half his time in LA (he’s a scriptwriter, he tells me, although I’ve never seen any evidence of his work; he’s extremely inscrutable) and the other half in London, in his huge, stunningly cool apartment overlooking Regents Park.  He’s black, masculine, handsome, fit, a couple of years older than me, extremely intelligent and funny.  We get on like the proverbial house on fire.  But my sex is on fire too.  I guess we’re not lovers because we’re both ‘tops’?  Or maybe I’m just not his type?  We certainly are very close, which makes it all the more frustrating, but, it’s still wonderful to actually BE close to someone, regardless.  I never try it on –  I don’t do ‘loss of dignity’ unless I’m really, really drunk (I have, of course,  blown it, on various rare occasions, I’m afraid).  He told me that his long-term lover of many years, a highly successful American, black lawyer, had died in the early 80s, not long before I met him.  So I did wonder if Tony was rich as a result of his inheritance… and was merely an aspiring screenwriter.  Maybe I’ll find out one day. Meanwhile, I’d love  to be playing the beautiful Beckstein baby grand piano in the middle of his massive living room overlooking the park,  fabulously furnished and decorated in shades of sensual, mutually-Scorpionic dark-brown, whilst he makes us the bestest vodka-martinis and lights loads of candles, smiling into my eyes… always smiling deeply into my eyes.”

I take a drink of my juice, blink,  stretch my body, cast my mind back twenty two years and sigh deeply.  Tony, Tony… you were like a mysterious, protective guardian angel sent by the Gods.  Why did you have to suddenly disappear from my life?

When we dance,  we dance… alone.

The foot ferry is coming in again and disgorging its passengers.  I need to check the bus times. I amble over to the stop and check; It’s cool – the next one is in precisely twenty minutes. Back at the ugly al fresco picnic tables, a magpie is actually perched on the edge of someone’s discarded wine glass and drinking the remains.  Amazing.

I open the next page of the diary and note that I’m suddenly in Ibiza.  I guess it’s hardly suprising that I didn’t write anything on the night ferry, although I can remember it well, even now.

I didn’t really know what to expect of the boat from Barcelona to Ibiza (the journey time was approximately ten hours, as I recall).  I walked down the same bleak, industrial wharf that housed the ticket office, but the visuals were way more romantic than in the daytime.  Lights  reflecting on water, the moon rising over the harbour, that kind of thing.  A sense of adventure.  I would love to say that my ship came in… well, it did, in the form of the ferry, but unfortunately, despite the hot and balmy mediterranean night, there was no romance other than in my mind. No poetry by Lorca or Cocteau, no handsome. swarthy sailors, just a great big car ferry, entirely similar to the British cross-channel ones, and with about as much style and class – ie very little.  People just slept, which was hardly surprising. I’d bagged a sun lounger on the open, upper deck and simply lay gazing at the stars, or looking wistfully over the rails at the calm, moonlit sea, as we plowed on through the night. My idea that there would be a bunch of beautiful and fascinating polysexual, international ravers on board was sadly misplaced.  I found it very hard to sleep – the mere romance of wanting romance was enough to keep me awake (along with several brandies and a couple of spliffs), but I managed about three or four hours sleep eventually. Then I woke as the first glimmer of the sun rising made a golden arced, sliver above the horizon, and a shiver of excitement ran through me as Ibiza, Ibiza town, slowly materialised  on the horizon as the new day dawned.

I recall that it was 9.30 in the morning on the quayside, some of the cafes were just opening their shutters, but nothing was actually open.  I walked out onto the nearest thing that Ibiza town has to a pier, the breakwater at the harbour entrance, sat on a stone bench and looked at the curious mixture of white gin palaces and genuine fishing boats in the harbour. I couldn’t, or didn’t want to walk too far with my luggage, so I just hung out and watched Ibiza town wake-up, along with all the fishing boats returning to port and offloading their silvery cargo onto the quay,  until I noticed a cafe open, at last.   I had a breakfast of omelette (Spanish, of course) and a capuccino and read my diary from Barcelona, just like I’ve been doing again for the first time, after all these years.  It’s fantastic how it takes you straight back into the action – like Youtube of the mind..

As it approached 11am, I felt that there might some sign of life in the gay bar (I can’t remember its name – probably something American-based like The Bronx –  that I’d been advised to visit, to ask for a somewhere to rent.  It was in the next street up from the cafe, as the centre of old Ibiza town is built on a hill – and very picturesque it is too.  I imagine it still is – I haven’t been back there in years.  I knocked on the antique, brass-studded wooden door and after a while a quite handsome, dark man wielding a mop opened it. Luckily, he spoke English, and within ten minutes I was clutching the keys to a second-floor studio apartment on Carrer De Mar (the imaginatively-named Sea Street, I assume); all mine for under £20 per night.  Sorted!  It wasn’t far away and I was surprised at how cool and chic it was.  Really spacious and light, with an open-plan kitchen and ‘neutral decor’ (as we say these days).  The sun streamed through French (oh okay, Spanish) windows which opened onto a balcony overlooking this pedestrian street – a broad alley, if you like –  which boasted a little metal ‘bistro’ table and two matching chairs. There was a large, comfortable beige futon sofa-bed, a plain mahogany dining table and four chairs, a beanbag, a coffee table, a large TV,  a terracotta-tiled floor, and plain white walls.  It was just perfect. I think I stayed awake deliberately  – and don’t remember much at all until my first diary entry  the next day.

“Ibiza

22.8.1988

My left hand  has started twitching (which I’ve recently realised is a sign of psychic/spiritual activity), having just got out of bed. I figure that it’s evidently time for some automatic writing. So here it is. I am  deadly serious! I’m going to write this straight out:

You were born into this world to create something. So far, you haven’t achieved it. This doesn’t mean that you have to feel guilty.  The title of your debut album makes the path clear. But you have been blocking the messages and, basically, working out your sexual karma. The two are linked, but the right side of your brain has dominated the left, hence the constant romantic idealism. You will go up to the castle today and a further message will be given.’

22.8.1988.

In The Cathedral in The Castle.

I’m sitting in a pew in wonderfully cool (as-in not hot) Baroque nave and my left hand (I’m left-handed) has started twitching again and become sweaty, whilst my right hand remains dry.  The sign of a spiritual presence.  I immediately start more automatic writing:

You are entitled to do whatever you wish for the good of mankind and yourself.  You may move freely throughout the world without fear. You are meant to be here. You know it well. You have conquered in this life, whereas you were conquered before, as the abbott of this monastery, by The Inquisition, and imprisoned here for many years. You had created a beautiful garden in this very place.  See if you can now find it. Don’t be sad and nervous.  Be happy for what is coming in the near future. Be at peace with yourself and remember that  you’re here for a purpose. You will discover what it is very soon.'”

Then there’s a squiggle that looks some kind of  arcane signature, and what can only be described as an automatic drawing, which resembles either a man in a cloak, or perhaps a plan… of the castle… or both?  Beneath it is written:

Hamni-on, oublieatt.’ What the hell language, if any, is that?  I Google it on my laptop thinking, yeah… dream on, and take the last slug of my juice.  The first thing that comes-up is the word Oubliette.  It’s kind of spooky in as much as it means ‘a dungeon or cellar that is reached through a trap door in the floor above’, in French.  Typing simply ‘Hamni-on‘ reveals that Hamni seems to be a christian name, apparently in several cultures and countries, mostly Eastern, but also North African.  It also appears to be associated with Japanese martial arts, as some sort of fight move, a swing of the arm. Perhaps the Abbott, my erstwhile past-life regression, was named Hamni,  and was maybe a Moor from North Africa and had been imprisoned in an oubliette in this very compound?  All very Da Vinci Code! But perhaps less contrived.

My eyes are drawn to an RTF (rich text format) file on my desktop entitled ‘The Keeper Of The Keys’.  I read the lyrics, which are  strangely apposite in many ways –  to what I’m reading and recalling, to my current situation (I wrote and recorded the song quite recently), and… there are ferries everywhere! Multiple metaphors and meanings (the keys and their keepers) and so many memories and question marks.

The Keeper Of The Keys

The keeper of the keys

is watching from the waterside,

he’s waiting for the ferry man

to take him for a ride.

The keeper of the keys

is fated to be engaged, 

to someone who is invisible

and locked in their own cage.

The keeper of the keys, he’s not like you and me,

he changes with every stranger that he meets.

The keeper of the keys, he’ll never set you free,

Because you’re animal and criminal and something that must be beaten….

The maker of the waves

is waiting for the full moon tide

He’s not fated to be otherwise

Every storm is his to ride.

The angel of the dark

is staring through your window.

No more demons bringing broken dreams,

It’s time to burn all your back-pages.

The keeper of the keys, he’s not like you and me,

he changes with every stranger that he meets.

The keeper of the keys, he’ll never set you free,

Because you’re animal and criminal and something that must be beaten….

The keeper of the keys.

The keeper of the keys, he has no place in society.

Words and music by Thom Topham (c) 2009. Copyright Control.

I don’t need to add anything.  I hope that the song speaks and sings for itself.

*You did click the hyperlink from the title to hear it, I trust?*

So, did I find the secret garden?

I turn the page to find out more.

“Cafe Montesol

Mon. 22.8.1988

I didn’t find the secret garden and I can’t make out the drawing, although, if it were a map, it seems to suggest that the garden is beneath the castle wall, just like Incognito, the gay bar.  Hey – hang-on! Maybe it’s a metaphor.  No wonder I like it there. It’s probably one of the most beautiful gay bars in the world. Terraced outdoor seating, ethnic (Hamni?) cushions on low walls, cool modern, Italian-style furniture inside, warm lighting and candles,  plants and flowers everywhere and a wonderful view over Ibiza Town to the sea and the harbour. It’s about as ‘incognito’ as a monk in a gay disco, if you’ll pardon the, er, parallel.   I think this could indeed be Hamni’s secret garden. Spirit messages, I have found, can perhaps be more easily interpreted if you allow a little humour and playfulness into the equation. Perhaps more will be revealed as I read on.

Meanwhile, if I see anymore hairy, muscled, suntanned legs in shorts, I’m gonna… have to have another drink and chill out… in my secret garden. Incognito, of course.

Backtrack to my first day.  Having arranged everything in the apartment to my liking, and put all my clothes etc away, I  take a shower and head straight off  to get the bus to the beach at Es Cavallet. I hope that being dressed in black Adidas (lycra/nylon?) running shorts and a black ‘Fashion Cares’ T-shirt should have the desired effect.

Ibiza – I have arrived!”