Sunday, 6 May 2012

Professor Higgins (part two)

So it was back to the City for me. I soon found a ground floor bed-sit to rent. There was a single bed, a kitchen sink unit, a table top cooker, a sofa and a wardrobe. There must have been a shared bathroom somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember ever using it. Or the cooker. Or sofa. I set my old record player next to the bed with my stack of vinyl and spliff bowl, I was home.

It was the spring of 1982, I was nineteen and remember how I felt walking through the city to work in the mornings. I felt free. Excited to be living alone. Relieved at finally leaving Silverhip. I'd tried for two and half years to be good. Most of the time, I'd tried. I would never be the type of girl who was suited to him and I was pleased I'd finally admitted that. Not half as pleased as his Father was.

I bought some bronze court shoes, bleached drainpipe jeans and a green cropped jacket with three quarter length sleeves. I decided I did like huge silver loop earrings and heels and lipstick and all manner of things that Silverhip and his friends considered tacky. Well fuck you lot in your desert boots and flares with your old man beards and corduroy jackets. It made me smile to think they might drive past and not recognise me. I liked the sound of those heels on the pavement and how they made me walk tall.

Higgins would drive over most evenings.  I only had to call him from work just as I was leaving and by the time I was half way along my home street, the sound of the Triumph Spitfire engine catching up with me would make my heart race and my hips swing. There was no way he would drive past and not recognise me. That made me smile too.

I'd never heard the word alcoholic. I knew some folk drank and others didn't. I knew some folk drank more than others. Too much. I didn't know about any sort of addiction. I'd taken every drug on offer in Oxford, where after realising my aunty's house was not the place to be, I'd latched on to a much older group of hippies. I joined in with their LSD trips, their magic mushroom tea parties, their trips to Stonehenge and Glastonbury in the summer of '79 where I discovered the delights of dancing wild and free to Steve Hillage, Gong and Roy Harper. I smoked endless chillums, bongs and pipes with them. I knew some of them injected some sort of drug but I couldn't imagine why. I couldn't fathom how anything could take you further away from reality than LSD, whether it was a on a square piece of paper, in a pill, a pipe, or a needle. And of course, I never asked. I just took whatever I was offered like a grateful stray cat, I was never offered a needle. I thought they did it all for fun. I had no idea anyone needed to do it. Least of all me.

So I thought nothing of Higgins drinking a bottle of wine or two during his nightly visits. I smoked my joints and he would have the odd toke. He drank his wine and I would have the odd swig. He had so many stories to tell. Of course he did, he was forty nine . . . and I was nineteen. He'd travelled the world and knew famous people. I'd never heard of most of these people, which both irritated and intrigued him. Where had I been for nineteen years. Where indeed? He'd been very close to fame himself in the early sixties, but the death of the General, had left him with way too much money. He needed drink more than money, or fame.

I wasn't aware, at this point, of him being wealthy. Of course I knew his family were, but he didn't appear to be part of his family and it was of no interest to me. Maybe he wanted to be sure that I wanted him, not his money. For richer or poorer. Or maybe not.

"Twiddlestick, let's go to Spain. I have to find a property there for "The Old Thing" (his Mother) . . . We could live there some of the time . . . and travel some of the time. O come on Twiddle, let's leave this ghastly grey island and find some sun . . . find some fun!"

"What would we do there? What about work . . . money? The language? How would we live?"
"You are funny Eliza with your worried little face . . . Come here, let me tell you sweetness that there are far better ways of making money than sitting in that God forsaken office of yours for eight hours a day"
"Really, without speaking the language?" For some reason this made him roar with laughter.
"O Eliza!" tears streaming down his face by now, ever the thespian. I had no idea what was so funny but I was stoned so I laughed along, mainly at his eyebrows, until he composed himself.
"Dearest Twiddle you're nineteen, you're desirable and you're a raving nymphomaniac, I'm forty-nine, nigh on bloody impotent, but not without my needs . . . 
Well, yes that hadn't escaped me.  He was certainly lacking in that area. I'd imagined it was down to being upper class, public school and all that. Hidden tendencies. I had no idea it might be to do with alcohol. Who knows, whatever the cause, it didn't bother me in the slightest. He could satisfy my mind. He knew where I was coming from and where I needed to go. And he could take me right there, anytime and every time. I'd never found this much pleasure before and I wasn't about to let it go. We needed each other.
He poured another one, I rolled another one.

"I have many connections. Beautiful Spanish Toreros" he said, a little too longingly. Yes, of course he was on his feet by now, extending his imaginary cape, head held high and tilted in true matador style, shuffling backwards. Damn sofa. My turn to laugh.

"Little one, these men have women falling at their feet. They are Spanish legends. They are proud men and lead very private lives . . . They pay high for discretion"  he then said something salacious in Spanish which I didn't understand but I got the gist.

"The universal language d'amour, ma petite, you are fluent in that . . . O yes"
"Tell me you will put in a passport application, tomorrow! . . . We'll go for a week, just a holiday, See what you think of Espana. You will love it. The Flamenco, the heat, the passion . . . Either way I have to go as "The old thing" is intent on buying an apartment there . . . You must come Eliza. Heaven forbid that I leave you here alone, to your own devices"

"Twi-ddle-stick, hmmm?" A little more wine and persuasion followed. A little more proof that we could not be without each other.

"How do I apply for a passport?"
"O Eliza, we will have such fun, really . . .  We will"



  1. Goodness you write well. And draw well. I am really looking forward to the next part of this saga. I have this terrible habit while I am reading of flipping to the end and reading the last chapter or so, and then going back to where I was.
    You are a work in progress (and rocking that progress) but I love the feeling that I am still reading the last parts of the saga and can flip back to the early days as well. Am I making sense?
    To sum up. Your writing is wonderful and I want more.

    1. The E'sC,
      Yes you're making perfect sense. And thankyou. I might take a few writing lessons as I'm not too sure about punctuation . . . As these memoirs are the first few things I've written, I'm sure I have a lot to learn still.
      All this reminiscing has caused me to dream of Higgins for the last two nights . . . I've actually woken up missing him. How awful. How real some dreams can be.
      There's a lot more to come . . . another thirty years, with very little "normality" . . . I'm quite pleased to be getting some now.
      Take care and thanks again.

  2. What a character he sounds, and flamboyant! And I thought I was worldly when my boyfriend at 19 was 10 years older!!! Great tales, keep them coming.
    Kiwigirl. xo

    1. Kg, O he was a character . . . A sodding handful, but a lot of fun, until he wasn't.
      I will definitely keep them coming. Hamper G is starting school this week so that will free up sone writing time . . . and decorating, gardening, clearing etc.
      I finally turned the house upside down today and shook it . . . this is my coffee break. I have to tear myself away.
      Take care x

  3. Your life is certainly an adventure!

  4. Something tells me you are going on a big adventure...;)

    1. Lou,
      Yes that was the start of the next thirty years of turmoil really.
      It's strange having to go back there to remember what was said and how I felt. A lot of nostalgia.
      I've started clearing my house today . . . Not sure where I will sleep tonight but I'll be so tired it probably won't matter. Coffee break over, back to it :-)

  5. This is good stuff clearing out like this... my life was much more boring, I don't have one of the sirens and lights type drunken pasts mine was lonely, isolate one, I'm actually happiest as a loner still - that way I don't affect anyone and they don't affect me. However it is a sad place to be and not achievable generally in the world these days either.

    Glad I did stop drinking now - your comment on Mr Higgins impotency issues reminds me of something I lost back in the drinking days.

    1. Hi Furtheron, yes many "lights and sirens". . . sirens more so in the past twelve years.
      I'm a bit of a loner too. My friends are you people on here. Especially now I don't even see anyone to score.
      I checked my bank Acc yesterday to see if I could afford a cd on-line, and I hadn't even cashed last week's money! had totally forgotten it and managed with the money in post office. Now that is a First! I'm still shocked . . . and wondering what to do with it :-)
      I'm glad you stopped drinking too. Take care x

    2. Haha - when I was in rehab - about 6 weeks in total my wife had to deal with the family accounts, she'd never done it before it was just one of those jobs I did - normally pissed and I'd rant and rave over it for hours, nowadays it is only a couple of mins and it is all done and rarely any moaning... LOL!

      Anyway - I called her one night in the 30mins I was allowed my mobile phone (it was a "strict" rehab) and she said "What do you do each month with the "£x00 that is left over?"... Err... "Left over?" That was a stark smack in the face of how much my drinking was costing me and the family in money terms, since I was an idiot and pretty much only drank in pubs it wasn't cheap - I couldn't afford to drink on the salary I'm on now that is for sure!

      I am now economically pretty well off - that is largely since I stopped drinking I put a lot of money away when I was still earning a top salary... more difficult now I'm in the public sector but I remember a counselor at the centre saying "We don't talk enough at times about the financial cost of addiction" - I think he is right, it seems grubby but really it shouldn't be

  6. I stayed in school and didn't travel to hike through Europe. Some people I knew did. I am enjoying your story. Life has many twists and turns. I am taking my turn at doing something other than study and work now.

    1. Syd, only just seen this comment, I doubt you'll be back to check for a reply nine days later but as I'm totally OCD about replying to comments, I had to write this for my peace of mind.
      Glad you're enjoying my story, thanks for reading (even though you're not reading this reply ;-))
      She wrote, laughing to herself . . .

  7. Very much enjoying this,as said above,what a character!Its almost like watching a movie...more please...!

    1. Hey Annie, I nearly didn't see this comment.
      I'm working on the next bit . . . I'm trying to stop myself rushing it, as I'm eager to leave this next part and escape to France (to spare me the constant Higgins dreams . . . but I know I mustn't rush it)
      When I think through it, it's like watching a movie of someone else and that's all good . . . but when I get the dreams, it's like living through it for real again; hence the need to get it over with ;-/
      Love to all x x

  8. I just found your blog last night and I think I am addicted. Especially to these stories of your past. WAY better then fiction. I love the 70's, the 80's too, but oh the 70's. I was born in '76, so I don't actually remember them myself. But the things I see on tv and in movies, read in books, the music, the pictures of the styles. IDK why but I just feel like I should have been born sooner. That should have been my time.

    Your writing is fabulous. You definitely have a new fan. I agree with the above comment about it being like watching a movie. Or even like reading a good bit of fiction by one of the greats. But it's not fiction.

    And every time you talk about having nothing to say. I can very much relate to that.I have learned to talk a bit more to keep people from looking at me like a freak or thinking I am just a stuck up bitch. But I have terrible social anxiety and can never understand why anyone would be interested in me anyhow. Well, keep up the great writing, I am salivating for more...

    1. Hi Carrion Doll, Thanks for your comment, that's good to read.
      I'm glad you understand the never having anything to say . . . I might as well have been mute until I learnt to speak French, and then, somehow, I found I could express myself a little. Then after I had kids, back in England, I started to find "my" voice. Finally!
      Although I still don't say much when there are new situations or too many people listening . . . which is possibly why I enjoy writing so much.
      Glad you're enjoying it all and thanks again x

  9. Yeah after I had kids is when I found my voice, somewhat. And I think maybe that is why I also enjoy writing. Get me on the net and I can go on and on. But face to face I will barely say two words. ESPECIALLY in new situations, like you. Of course I could never understand why alot of people feel the need to always blab,lol. I think people talk too much alot of the time. I hope you really enjoyed your holiday! Glad to see you are home safe.