Someone on GAB posted a thread of what they were doing 17 years ago. That got me thinking…
In 1987 I was 22 years old and living in central London (England). I was the first man to be hired on front desk reception at the Royal Automobile Club, a posh gentlemen’s club mid-way down Pall Mall. Since I was the only man in a sea of female receptionists, I was always thought the manager and would get complaints, compliments and the odd weird request. One day I got to serve a palace guard in full uniform, his tall black buffalo hat in his accompanying valet’s hands. Bucks Palace was a 10 min walk away and palace guards were not allowed to leave the grounds in uniform unless accompanied by a valet. He wanted to know about the history of one of the trophies in the great hall. There was me, the middle class white kid from Canada doing his best not to stammer at the duo. When he left I kicked myself for not asking if he thought the whole “no laughing” thing was annoying.
The bar scene soundtrack was provided by Stock, Aitkins and Waterman: Rick Ashley (who surprised everyone by being white) and Donna Summer (who suprised everyone by being alive) were never going to give us up. One night in a late night club in Earl’s Court, my friend Liam and I came to be sitting beside a stylish group of gays all decked out in children’s play dress up clothes. The cowboy of the group, sitting nearest to us dressed up in a small cowboy hat, chaps and vest, announced that he “hadda go pee pee” That became our washroom call for years and got more and more exaggerated in reverse English-to-Texas accent as time went on.
That Xmas, my dad came across the pond and we ventured out to The Colherne (or the Cold Hole, as the natives called it), London’s only leather/fetish bar at the time. There I showed him one of the midgets from the movie Time Bandits who would go to the bar wearing his tiny leather wear. As we drank at the bar, a guy tried to pick me up. I quickly introduced my Dad and he tore off in the opposite direction. Dad’s major complaint about London was that when he picked his nose at the end of the day after all his sightseeing, the boogers were black.
It was in London that I discovered my love for short, art-house animated films when I discovered the Brothers Quay. Upon accompanying me to one showing, my friend Liam thought I was on residual acid from my high school days and questioned my movie suggestions from that day onward.
I was dating a 32 yr old man named Nigel. He was living with a guy his own age who was a CEO of some shipping company. I was the other woman. Nigel would let me drive his Mini (’87, remember? A real one!) around London where I would get a real-life lesson in inertia and just how long it took a light small car full of people to stop on wet streets. Once he let me drive the rich boyfriend’s Alfa Romeo Spyder, which lasted only 4 blocks because I was going way too fast and laughing way to hard. The last I heard of Nigel was a 45 record in the mail 6 months after I moved back to Canada: Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield What Have I Done To Deserve This?. The lyrics were shockingly apt.