Autobiography & Memoir
In 1969 I was preparing for my big journey to Rio. I had fallen in love with the Brazilian Portuguese language and the Bossa Nova music. I had made that decision to go into the unknown and be an Adventurer in my mid twenties on an educational trip to Portugal offered by Global. I worked in their reception making bookings for the third largest incoming and outgoing tour operator at that time - Global Tours on Oxford Street, London.
Their MD Martin Lewis had the bright idea to create package golf holidays to The Algarve. He was one of the pioneers of the developing tourist industry in the late 1960s when Freddy Laker ruled the skies. I was in telephone reservations on the first floor in a temporary job at Global having returned from hitching for two months around Spain and badly needed a job. Any job! I landed a dull job taking telephone booking mainly to Majorca. Then via the grape vine I heard there was a vacancy in reception to take bookings from their incoming Australian, American, Canadian and South African clients. I would be making onward flight reservations, package air and coach holidays in Europe, handling complaints and booking theatre tickets. I wanted that job but had absolutely no experience. I marched into the boss's office and just said I wanted the job, that I was the only one who could speak French and Italian and he had to give me the job. He smiled at my chutzpah and immediately called the reception manager informing him that a new member of the team would be arriving there and then and that he personally had to show me the ropes. He smiles, wished me good luck and shook my hand. My motto in life ever since has been if you don't ask, you don't get!!!!
The cost of the flight in those days to Rio was £450. A fortune when you consider it is more or less the fare today! However I knew that if I remained with Global for two years, I would only have to pay ten percent. So I waited preparing myself, listening to the plaintive off key Bossa music of Jobim and taking Brazilian Portuguese lessons from the Casa do Brazil, under the auspices of the Brazilian Embassy in London. I also became a member of the snobbish Anglo Brazilian Society to make contacts out there in a land far far away.
Then I had a thought. Why not try to represent British tourist companies in Brazil? For some crazy reason I thought of the known coach company Frames Tours. Why that company? I must have been stupid because they only covered London and the Home Counties and had no connection even with Europe let alone South America!
I hand wrote a letter outlining my proposal and received a call from a Mr Roy Veysey who asked me to come to his office at 18.00. I thought it odd as their offices closed at 17.30 like all London offices including Global. But I went anyway because he sounded so British and commanding.
I arrived at the cold and draughty coach depot punctually. He was an ugly man sitting behind a desk with piles of papers looking very important. He commented he was interested in my unusual handwriting and thus wanted to meet the hand that wrote saying right away that Frames would not be interested in my proposition but he personally wanted to meet me! He was so ugly but his voice was seductively rich, mesmerising and commanding. I had never heard a voice like his before so I stayed a while despite his rejection.
I looked him in the eye. I had seen those glazed over eyes before. I put my cards on the table and asked him straight out. Was he a warlock? He took his time to answer searching my features, penetrating my eyes and my soul no doubt and then eventually smiled. Yes he was, he confessed. He knew that I knew. He also added that he had a black belt in Judo and the Martial Arts as well. Was that information to impress or frighten me?
Recognising my white witch potential, like Denis the new white witch friend I had acquired through recently buying a cabalistic animal skull in Camden Passage flea market for £20, he invited me to go to a ceremony of witches and warlocks up a hill who knows where outside London the forthcoming Friday night. Before I knew it I had agreed to join him. It must have been his rich seductive voice that enchanted and mesmerised me. We agreed to meet at 18.00 at The Swan a well known pub with a small outside patio on the Bayswater Road close to where I resided.
I went to work that Friday a bit nervous about my rendezvous. French George, an older meek and mild man who specialised in train tickets at Global observed my mood and asked me what was wrong. Not knowing anything about George, who kept himself to himself, I blurted out my tale. Only then did he confess that he too was into The Occult and that he must cut a lock of my long brown hair for my protection. I innocently allowed him to do so and he put it in a metal box he conveniently had in his pocket. George also wanted my phone number just in case I didn't turn up to work the next morning!
After work I went to meet Roy outside the pub as arranged. Before we could speak or have a beer, there was a sudden clap of thunder. The sky went black. Torrential rain fell so heavily that everyone rushed inside the pub and some people even opened their umbrellas because the rain came in through the leaky roof. This was a warning from the Gods saying CAVE!!!!
As I lived around the corner at 19 Craven Hill in a lovely traditional yellow painted flat on the third floor with mahogany furniture and a yellow couch belonging to my architect landlady who had studied years ago in Paris, I suggested he came back for a drink.
On arrival he didn't want me to switch on the overhead light. Only the table one. He quickly drew the curtains and asked me to lie on the couch because he wanted to hypnotise me with a candle he conveniently had in his pocket. He certainly came well prepared. But for what? To initiate me? To seduce me? God forbid he was so ugly. But that seductive rich voice fascinated me......
He moved the flickering candle back and forth before my eyes muttering that they were going to feel heavier and heavier. They did! But then he slowly placed his lips on mine testing my reaction. I froze like a greek statue motionless. He did not move. Nor did I. Then he moved back slowly penetrating my eyes and my soul as he had done in the office. He silently extinguished the candle and left.
I lay there in a daze. Who was this interesting, fascinating mystery man? He was so unattractive but so experienced and powerful? I never saw or heard from Roy Veysey again. Gone to Never Neverlandia beyond the enchanted hill? Communing with his Gods? Dancing wearing black or white robes in the moonlight. I never found out if he was a black or white Warlock. I never got that far to dare ask.
Some weeks later I decided to call Frames Tours to speak to him. He was still on my mind haunting me. I was told no one of that name or description had ever worked there!!!!!
Written at The Belmondo Hotel, Chania, Crete, December 2015.