ANDREW & JANE
Andrew Lovelock had six years' growth of long hair. And he had a job at Britannic House. At Britannic House he usually worked at night, on a computer. And at work he wore a sand-gray suit, a tie, polished shiny shoes, and a wig. A short wig, distinct and discrete. It was a complete transformation and he liked his job. Maybe he didn't dream of spending his life in the same job, on that computer, or progressing in that kind of career. But for now it was interesting to lead that kind of double life. Outside of work hours, he lived with the beautiful Jane, with lively eyes, sweet voice, perfect smile. And the two got along very well together, with a few little quarrels here and there (it was more Jane who started such discussions), because Andrew Lovelock was almost a child (although he was a child prodigy) and Jane more or less kept an eye on him, like a wise and protective sister (a little older, or at least more experienced in the things of life). Andrew loved his long blond hair. And rightly so, because it was beautiful and naturally well cared for. Besides his job at Britannic House he also played drums in a group that he’d started, very promising. Sometimes Andrew's group played at The Crypt on Fridays when his work at Britannic House had been completed during the day. The following year he would be going to University in Sussex, where he would study mathematics. He and Jane liked to take me to see places in London that I didn't know yet. One day they took me to Kew Gardens, where there was a gigantic greenhouse, within which there was a tropical garden, with red coffee in the coffee trees. Juanita Banana was with us that day, having brought with her a Super 8 film camera, and she made us act a little bit in front of the camera, every time she had it running for the three minutes of a Kodachrome film.
For the next, peaceful (to some extent) nights in Naná’s house, a group of us sat on the floor and spent hours drawing, talking, drinking tea, smoking hash and listening to music. Andrew Lovelock had very good taste in music (pop) and he lent us almost all of his records, because at that time we didn't have the money to buy even a simple compact disc. On Saturdays we went to Portobello Road, I mean, to the Portobello Road fair, which was always a party ...
Andrew Lovelock and Jane took me for a walk and planned a visit to Brazil, for their next holiday. Jane complained about the Brazilian tourist publications which only show ugly cities in the interior with huge ugly buildings, and never the natural beauties that she had heard me talking about so much. "Brazilian tourist companies have not yet discovered the wide open expanse of Brazil", I replied to Jane. And then she smiled at me with those eyes that I shall never succeed in describing. Jane came from one of the better families in Salisbury, although I didn’t see that much of the “better families” in Salisbury. But I saw Jane a little like one of those legendary female characters of classic English novels. She was perfect and maybe had just one imperfection – if that could be seen as an imperfection: Jane's smile was ... perfect, and how she smiled, so much, and people, necessarily, ended up realising that one of those two central teeth in the upper part of her smile was a little bit of a third of a millimetre in front of the other tooth. If Jane had any defect, it was only that. But for me that was an incredible charm. I loved Andrew & Jane, I love Jane & Andrew, I will love both of them, my English couple-friends. Jane studied sociology and liked, as I did, poetry. And she lent me her collection of English poets from every period, and we talked about these poets and their poetry. Jane never laughed at my accent and never let people change me, at Naná's house, where people practically lived out a theatrical comedy, because they inevitably belonged to the so-called new breed of people and yet we still knew almost nothing, even though we all came from different social classes.
Jane & Andrew were never "down". Even when Andrew came home from his work at Britannic House, when he took off his short wig and removed the 18 hairpins that held in place his beautiful six-year long hair, calmly, hairpin by hairpin, loosened his hair, changed his clothes, took off the grey suit and the tie, the shirt and the work shoes and put on his other clothes, his faded jeans, his Lee trousers that were also more or less six years old, the Lee trousers that were the most patched and faded I had ever seen, his coloured belt, his unforgettable shirt and that coat, that maroon coat, covered with buttons from top to bottom, and made of a fabric that was a mixture of satin and another material, beautiful, bought in Portobello Road, on one of those Saturdays, when we talked with the stallholders like on that day when the young woman told me, "Never shop at a store, knowing you have a market in the city". She said that because I had told her the price that I‘d paid for my pullover purchased on King's Road, at a time when I only had a small amount and when Zé Vicente called me, "let's go shopping at King's?” with that way of Zé Vicente and I didn't resist the invitation, months ago. I had paid four pounds for it, when a week later I had seen just the same and even more beautiful, for only three shillings (in the time of shillings), on the stall of that woman-child, in Portobello Road.
When a child reveals a secret to another, that other child will reveal the secret to other children until, successively, all the children in the world will get to know and if this dream doesn’t stop, we should recognise that we are all a child.
“World, vast world ...”
I had read the poems of Sir Francis Bacon – "the world is a bubble, and the life of man / Less than a span", was one of the poems. But I also read the poems of Keats, Lewis Carroll, and many other poets in Jane's anthology.
Jane & Andrew were never "down". Jane was sitting on the carpet in Naná's living room, with Andrew lying on the floor, with his head supported on her lap, with one leg raised (Andrew), leaving part of his blue boot showing. Jane was talking and with one hand she was stroking Andrew's blond hair. The other hand, her right arm, she left resting on her right leg. Jane's hair was long and brown and smooth and her skin was clear, her manner was both lively and relaxed.
Andrew & Jane loved each other, and they love each other. And their love was so great and so ‘relax’ that there was still love for others, for all of us. And I also loved them and always felt good in their company. And that wasn’t the London, nor the England of any book, of any writer, that was my England, that is, the England that I knew, thanks to my search, having always believed in that saying that "He who seeks will find". And Andrew himself once said to Mossa, after she came back from Stonehenge with that American film maker, disappointed, because they saw "just some stones”. Andrew said: “It’s necessary to look for things"...
Andrew and I agreed to take the train to Salisbury. Jane had to stay in London (because of her classes), and Juanita Banana ‘guaranteed’ that within two days she would meet me in Salisbury, and together, all of us, we would watch Tony Legolas’s concert in the Cathedral. Andrew Lovelock and I left London (and Naná’s house) in the morning. Andrew had worked the entire night on the computer at Britannic House, and when he arrived at Naná’s house to pick me up, he was still wearing his 'work uniform' and he was dressed like this that he travelled to Salisbury, disguised in his grey suit and under his short wig. Andrew liked to play with two personalities: one ‘straight’ and the other ‘freak’. And on the street, in the train stations and on the underground, in public places, nobody suspected anything, nobody saw anything, when he was in that costume. Often when we were walking the streets of London and we met mutual friends, hippies, heads, freaks, none of them realised that the ‘straight’ next to me was Andrew Lovelock, disguised. And Andrew had great fun seeing people’s faces. Then he would reveal himself and people would laugh, making "Ohs!" of surprise.
The train was half empty at that time and we bought second class tickets but we went to sit in one of the first class carriages. We lowered the curtain and rolled a joint for later, enjoying the tranquility of the landscape seen from the train window. When the ticket inspector came into our cabin to check our tickets he didn't notice, or he pretended not to notice, that we were smoking a joint, in spite of the smell. He laughed when he saw the curtain drawn down and smiled wickedly, knowing that in that darkness something slightly forbidden was going on. The inspector saw that our tickets were second class but said we could stay right there, in first, because the train was empty. We ordered two sandwiches and two cups of tea with milk. And we opened the curtain and the window. The day was beautiful even though some black clouds were threatening rain for later.
"Look, Jane's parents' house!" Andrew pointed out to me, one of those delightful English country houses, in verdant countryside just a few miles outside Salisbury, beyond the railway line. Soon afterwards we got off at Salisbury station.
In the house at Saint Anne Street people were very shocked, more than shocked, hugely surprised, when they came face to face with Andrew in “that outfit”. People first welcomed me and gave the usual greetings for me, whilst Andrew stayed half to one side, like a stranger. Until they realised that my companion was Andrew, and they exclaimed in one big exclamation together: “Andrew Lovelock!!!” Then Andrew took off his wig and the 18 hairpins, letting fall his long golden hair of six years growth. Andrew's hair came down to his waist. At times he would casually roll it round his neck as if his hair was a golden scarf that he was taking off. I would very much like to have the gift of describing Andrew Lovelock, his beautiful and lively way of walking, his eyes both childish and adult, brotherly and paternal, friendly and warm, all at the same time, confident that he would inspire me, patient, though it was not quite patience – it was more the way of a good father, watching the disastrous progress of his crazy son (me), a way that he had towards me (in particular). And it took, at least, a good dose of patience to deal with my changeable and confusing moods. Andrew offered me his records, his hash, his cigarette rolling machine (the only one of its kind), his clothes, his books, his love and his friendship. Above all Andrew was generous. I hadn't got to know Andrew Lovelock before London. I had only seen him during my first two days in Salisbury, and spoke briefly with him, when he was leaving, when he gave me his new address in London, on Vera Road in Fulham, in case I should go there; the address where later, by telephone, I got to know the cheerful and disappearing Trip.
I remembered that, months before, in another life, on another trip before the current one, I had heard an exchange more or less like this, in the community’s living room, in a conversation between Bruce and one of the girls in the house:
“I saw Andrew Lovelock in London," said Bruce.
"Oh, Andrew Lovelock ...!" said the girl, with a bit of a face like someone who’d eaten something and didn't like the taste.
"He’s changed" answered Bruce, giving an inflection that I interpreted as "he’s changed for the better”. The girl still doubted it, but not a lot, because if Bruce said Andrew had “improved” it’s because Andrew had improved.
But for me (and for other people) Andrew is the type of friend without any defect, something practically impossible these days. But nothing is impossible because HE exists.