MEETING UP WITH TRIP IN LONDON
I think of Trip, who went to Salisbury over the weekend. If I haven't already talked about Trip and – apparently – she enters the story just like that, it’s because she is a special case, the possibility of happiness, simple happiness, in the middle of it all.
Before talking about Trip I'm going to tell you how it was that I met her. One day, when I arrived back from my journey to New York and to Ireland, I felt like seeing Andrew Lovelock and I took out my address book and called the phone number that he'd given me that day in Salisbury, when he was leaving to come and live and work in London. Since that day I hadn’t seen Andrew Lovelock again and one day I wanted to see him and I called the number he'd given me. A delicate but lively little voice answered and I asked, "Is Andrew there?" and the little voice answered me, "He doesn't live here any more. He’s moved.” Then I asked, "Could you let me know where he’s living?" and the little voice asked me who I was. I introduced myself and she was surprised, on the other end of the line, saying that she had heard a lot about me back in Salisbury. And she laughed on her end of the line and I laughed on my end. We were getting on well and soon the idea was that we should meet. So we arranged to meet up on the afternoon of the next day at Naná's house, and then she would take me to Andrew Lovelock’s house, which was two blocks from Naná's. Trip knew how to get there, though she didn't know the address. "Pretext for her to get to know me and for me to get to know Trip" I thought cheerfully. The idea of meeting up with a Salisbury girl who was not from 'my time' excited me a lot.
Trip arrived at six in the afternoon and as it was winter, it was already night. Barbara and Jody, Naná’s American guests, had gone out sightseeing in London and Naná herself was still at the BBC. Trip arrived wearing a beautiful wine-coloured jacket that went right down to the ground. She was carrying a velvet bag full of funny things inside, little things that in the middle of our initial conversation, here and there, she would show me and surprise me. Naná's living room was a delightful place to receive Trip. We listened to music, I made her some tea, we looked into each other’s eyes and we were in love. There was a moment when she opened her wine-coloured jacket and let me notice that underneath she was just wearing one of those light and transparent Indian blouses. We talked about Salisbury, about the people at 63, Saint Anne Street; everyone was there, some had changed, but the house was still going. We were getting nicely relaxed when Barbara and Jody arrived, together. Trip told me that Veronica had moved out of Salisbury and was taking care of an old lady, a former teacher, in a small town nearby. Don had moved to somewhere in Germany, where he was working. Derek had left Salisbury. But there were new people in the house, there was Tony Legolas (troubadour). Bruce, David, were still at the house. But it was a new time. Roger Elliot and Tony Chivers plus the elves, some dwarves, and some 'trolls', were still at the house. THE HOUSE, as Trip said, whilst I was enchanted. But Barbara and Jody had arrived, there in Naná’s house. Barbara, very practical, said that she had spoken to Naná on the phone and that the two of them plus Jody could arrange dinner that evening with meat, soup, cakes, beer, coca cola and other ingredients. Barbara "practically” invited Trip to stay for dinner with us. Trip was a little doubtful but Barbara "practically” insisted and Trip ended up accepting. And while Barbara went to the kitchen to prepare some things and to get some others ready for when Naná arrived, we stayed in the living room, Jody, Trip and myself. Jody, like every American I knew (and friends of Naná also) laughed a lot at my Salisbury accent when I was speaking to Trip. Also she didn’t understand Trip’s English and corrected certain of her pronunciations with her charged and rather ugly accent from Chicago, Illinois. Inwardly I was a little pissed off with her. After all, if she was American, Trip was English and we were in England, so bollocks!
From time to time I would space out and dream of a wedding with Trip at Salisbury Cathedral, a fairy tale wedding with knights of honour: Bruce, John Atkins, Roger and Tony Chivers. And David as best man. And Don, Veronica, Julie, Penny, and everyone there in the Cathedral. I am often on my own and I think at times that the
only solution is marriage, but I want a wedding that would be more than a political marriage between Brazil and England. Trip’s parents live in Salisbury. Her father is a teacher there and she is in London studying to be a teacher. Then I imagined myself as a child being taught by the delicate hands of Professor Trip. The place where she lives and studies in London is a long way from here, from Notting Hill Gate. Her nearest underground station is Tooting Broadway.
The dinner prepared by Barbara and Naná was close to being a complete disaster. But I won't talk about that here. I won't even talk about the time when the soup was served.
Trip invited me to dinner with her parents and her brothers in Salisbury, the following Sunday. But I wouldn’t have known how to behave on such an occasion, so I made an excuse saying that I had a "professional" commitment in London for that Sunday. Perhaps another time. But I think that Trip didn't really believe that I could have any type of commitment, much less a "professional" commitment. But as she is a polite young lady, she accepted my excuse and said she would hope for a phone call from me on Monday, when she’d be back in London.
But now I was regretting it. Of course I should have gone with her. Now it was Sunday and I was 'tripping' at Baroness Naná’s house. It was raining, it was night time, and I went out into the streets to be able to cry in peace, in the rain. But every time I trip on acid I become very straightforward (after a certain period of tripping) and I always end up reaching the conclusion that the world is like that and that it is useless to carry on bashing your head against a wall because things are as they are right now. The come-down is always sad.
In winter I can’t expose myself to nature too much. I try to read fairy tales. I'm tired of all the records, all the music, all the drugs. Taking acid is like buying a ticket to watch a movie. Basically, we are always fooled. I recognise that I do carry on a little impatiently, wanting to be involved in something that pulls me into the unexpected and the unknown. But all the faces in the streets have lost any mystery and I don’t believe that they can offer me any emotion, even if it’s a cheap emotion. They all wanted to find someone who was really sadistic, really masochistic, really good, really bad. But the faces all looked tired and sceptical. There was a great lack of energy in everyone. It seemed that everyone was dead, and whoever was not dead was so simple that they’d laugh at anything, and conversation comes and goes about the lack of good humour in everyday life. People are tuned in to bad music, bad movies, bad books, bad drugs; to vegetarian food in restaurants; to new products, shampoos, hairstyles; to necklaces and clothes, to antiques, to posters, to magic; they talk about cats as if they were people, they use phrases like ‘Oh, what a lovely ice-cream!’, ‘how adorable’, ‘how lovely’, ‘how cute’, ‘I’m so fed up with everything, so bored’, ‘London, New York, they bore me, it’s so violent, everyone is at war’. Go back? Not even if I was dead! Every time the bar gets even heavier. Everyone’s becoming political, or alienated. They only talk about revolution, revolution, minority rallies are so naive, "the Black Panthers, they also use hairspray." You want to know something? We are all one great falsehood. The human race is totally false. The epoch, this whole age is coming to an end, but they still want so much, a life full of amazement, colours, lights, sounds, fantasies, beauty, madness, love, sex, sex with everyone, with the whole family, from children to old people, what’s more? And them? They are thirsty for meat, for the catch, for holding on, feeling, biting, arousing, waking and sliding, to pose, to be who they are, without any fear, without fear of other people’s judgement. Everyone wants to enjoy all that garbage without fear of judgment from others. They are dizzy, with headaches, weak, thin, faces sucked dry, pale. In a big room there’s a great big mirror that takes up the whole wall from the high ceiling right down to the floor. A mirror that occupies the entire wall. And everyone masturbated in front of the big mirror. Men, women, everyone, without exception.
Meanwhile, nearby, Lobelia’s head was melting and she was asking herself, grasping at the corner of the table, "When will I learn to say NO?” She was always smiling, even when I was sad, depressed and in a bad mood. There was nobody in the city who she wanted to visit or get to know. She knew everything they were going to say and do. And she was fed up with it all. And she grasped hold of the corner of the kitchen table in her "lonely flat". That’s how we met. But it didn't work out and it couldn't. It was short-lived, less than one week. But it was "reasonable" while it lasted.
Like everyone else, I also decided to be sad about the state of things. I was very happy in spring, summer and autumn and I was filled with joy for a while. It takes winter to leave a few marks on my face.
But then I met Trip and the world changed. Our first night together was in her little college room in Tooting Broadway, after a ‘health food’ dinner that she had prepared herself, delicious and light yet very hearty and healthy.
She looked to me like the Virgin Mary in a picture in my parents’ house in the interior of São Paulo state. She was pure and holy. She loved me from the beginning, our first meeting, ‘love at first sight’. We were walking together one night, my left leg pressed against her right leg, my steps at first not keeping step with hers; we laughed and kissed on one block or another of an empty Portobello Road, one night somewhere in the middle of the week on the way to Notting Hill Gate station where she would take the underground to Tooting Broadway.
The next night I went to meet her at the station and we walked about two miles in the rain until we arrived at her school. Still soaked from the rain she took me to see the rooms of her colleagues and fellow students at the college. Girls doing crochet and talking about their home towns, boys listening to music, studying and drawing. They talked about how they were being interns, giving classes to children of five, six years of age. The teachers sat on the floor with the children and everyone drew, played, invented things. Teachers were not ‘teachers’ and children were not ‘students’. They were all children, without distinction. Trip was at most, or at least, a fairy. I saw incredible drawings made by Trip’s children.
We went to Trip's room. We were wet from head to toe (without quotes). Trip changed her clothes and put on a flannelling night-dress, light and clear. I also took off my clothes (at Trip’s insistence) and I wore a colourful Indian sweater she gave me to wear. And while she was preparing our "supper” we listened to Quintessence, followed by oriental or medieval music. And whilst we were making love, later on, Trip played an LP by Nico. Then we made love. It was good like it hadn’t been good for a long time. And we slept holding each other and naked. We made love when we woke up early in the morning. Trip had set the alarm to go off at seven, because she had a class in the morning. But that morning she missed class. After a late breakfast and after a shower that we took together – hidden – in the public bathroom of that college precinct, I said goodbye to her and left for Naná's house. I felt like a different person, reborn and everything.
I’m not going to tell all the smallest details of my relationship with Trip because – for those who want to know – they were all very full of respect, like a father and mother. But it was very good whilst it lasted and it would have been even better if I had had the ability to make our love last for ever and always. But I still love Trip and
I'd kept a place in my heart for her later, for after she had completed her course as a teacher.
Of course, we met each other many more times and we made love with each other "again & again". But the distance between Notting Hill Gate and Tooting Broadway was very great and London was the second capital of the world.