And now I don’t think so anymore, because the years in between since those events have covered many painful thoughts – like autumn leaves that fall beneath the trees.
Thoughts turn to daffodils that grow and bloom to the sun; along the river banks where dreams are lost and won. They do not care about the past; they only care about the wonder of life and enjoy every minute of their short existence in our shared world.
I thought I cannot ever hurt her; I should not tell this tale, but it happened many years ago and time has passed since then.
She had been an international model and a Playboy magazine centerfold girl before that. My God, she was beautiful.
She married a Morrocan Prince and in the process converted to Islam, but things went wrong and later she was divorced by him; Sharia Law. It took about one minute and then she was gone from his life forever, and then her world fell apart. I cannot mention her name but she was born in Europe; she never talked about those things.
She had long blonde hair and a body that men can only dream about, and she was also highly intelligent and had a great sense of humour – she made me happy every day with her jokes and her broad smiles.
We first met on an island in the Mediterranean one summer a couple of years after her divorce.
She was lonely and so was I. When her holiday ended she had to go back to England and we shed tears at the airport on that day. The sort of tears that run like liquid pearls; the ones that choke your throat.
Even the check-in girl got her tissues out and wiped her eyes, and the elderly English couple in the queue behind us said in unison like twins “Don’t let her go.”
I had been mucking around in Menorca working as a deck-hand on yachts and I had just turned nineteen then. As luck had it I got a job skippering a small boat for a wealthy British real estate magnate. One day I was looking a bit glum and he asked me “What is wrong?”, so I explained about my lover and how much I missed her.
Early the following morning I was waiting on his boat for him and his friends to arrive for a cruise around the harbour. Of course, I always dressed smartly for the job in my white shorts and a blue cap embroidered with the words ‘El Capitan’.
He came down half-way to the jetty on his own wearing an old Panama hat and said: “Come up to the house for a minute ok.”
I followed him up the high steps through his garden from the waterfront where I had moored the boat. He said “Now you have a real job. I want you to work for me at my office in Windsor. You can sell real estate and get the hell on with your life.”
Then he gave me an envelope containing a one-way ticket to London and one hundred pounds in cash.
It was raining and dark outside when I arrived at Heathrow airport in late-afternoon. She met me in the arrivals hall dressed in an ankle-length mink fur coat and she smelled of Chanel Number Five, her favourite perfume. We hugged each other for at least ten minutes; such joy to meet again.
She had a beautiful flat near to Ascot then where we would live for months together in the bliss that only lovers understand. But on the way there that evening she said let’s stop and have a drink ok? I guess she was a bit nervous despite our intimate knowledge of each other.
And so we did. It was her local pub on the bank of the river Thames. A Tudor-style and cosy place with roaring open fires and lots of laughter. In those days you could smoke anywhere you liked and I don’t think there was a breathalyser in the whole country. Times were good.
I didn’t have much money left out of the hundred quid my new boss had given me, but ever the gentlemen I asked her what she would like to drink? She smiled and replied “Darling you know I only drink Napoleon brandy.” so I ordered one of those and a small malt whiskey for myself. I didn’t want to get too crooked as I had plans for later on.
Our life from then on became a whirlwind of parties and drinks and social gatherings. I began to feel awkward and out-of-place and just wanted to go home and be with her. She knew a lot of people and was very popular in the jet-set around the county. I didn’t know a soul except her.
We went to a party one night not far from where we lived and I got chatting to a weird-looking guy wearing sunglasses and we had a few drinks together and a joint or two. The place was full of smoke and flashing multi-coloured light strobes; I could hardly see the other side of the room, let alone the people I was talking to.
She told me on the way home he was a rock-star named Paul McCartney, and that Elton had been eyeing me up all night, which she quickly put a stop to bless her heart.
We had our warm and cosy nest at home together, but I had to work for a living. I mean I just couldn’t afford the Napoleon brandies every night, my salary was only twenty-two pounds a week and they cost two a shot. My days were spent on British Rail commuting either to Windsor or the West End in London where we had offices. I was exhausted after only three months and the toll began to show.
Elton had performed a song that rang around in my head night and day on trains and buses and walking back and forward to the endless grey stations that I went to every day.
I packed my bags and left her. I went to live in a little rented clapped-out house on the river not far away. I found some old line and a hook along the banks and made a fishing rod from a willow tree.
I could not sleep so I fished for days on end and listened to my favourite song and another that I loved at the time on my cassette player. My life had stopped and fishing was the only way I knew to calm my nerves. It was only a few hundred yards from where the Magna Carta was signed.
I got a new job working for a firm of Chartered Surveyors in Bruton Street in the West end of London. My life was filled again with trains and the soul-less people on them, and I felt very sad.
I tried my best and smiled at people on the trains. I thought that maybe they would respond – it didn’t work. They thought I was a nutter or possibly an alien just arrived from other worlds.
One lunch-time I wandered up the pavement on the street from work to have a sandwich and a cup of tea. We had luncheon vouchers in those days which just about covered my only daily meal.
The punch in my face hit me like a kick from a horse. I didn’t fall down but I was stunned. When I got my wits about me again a small man came into view. He had been a close friend of ours then; a rock-star too. He was wearing a rainbow coloured waistcoat and a funny little red beret on his head.
I asked him why. He said because you nearly killed her you shit. We sat down on the kerb together between some parked cars. My jaw was seriously hurting and my lip was split and dripping blood between my spread out legs.
“The night you left she cut her wrists you bastard. That same night you were supposed to come to my birthday party and you both didn’t turn up. I rang and rang, and then I got concerned so I went to the flat.”
He broke the door down and got her out of the bath where she had cut her wrists. The one we used to share with so much joy, the rubber ducks and all.
She lived, and years later we met again after my sagas on the seven seas. I was alone again back in London and it was my twenty-fourth birthday.
I had no-one else to call. She said then come and meet me.
We met me at a pub called The White Swan on the river Thames that lunchtime and sat on the terrace at a table overlooking the river. We didn’t talk a lot, we just looked at each other.
We held hands across the wooden table-top and I knew she had forgiven me.
I have never forgiven myself.
“I love you the more in that I believe you had liked me for my own sake and for nothing else.”
~ John Keats